Antonio Brown, despite the negative press he has received over the past year, is still one of the NFL's most popular players. Brown is particularly popular with young Raider fans who are excited to have one of the league's best players on their team.
Brown's popularity with Raider Nation's young fans was on display prior to Oakland's second preseason game in Arizona against the Cardinals. While he didn't play as he continues to recover from frostbitten feet, Brown did catch passes from Raiders quarterback Derek Carr during pregame. Brown then made his way over to some Raiders fans, an experience that brought one young Oakland fan to tears.
After the game, Brown talked to reporters about how the outside noise has impacted him and those around him.
"For me, as an athlete, you gotta have tough skin," said Brown, whose Raiders jersey was the eighth best selling player jersey in the NFLPA's most recent release of the league's top-50 most popular player jerseys. "People are gonna always talk and try to bring you down. I just think it's tough for the people that love me, the people know me and actually have to hear when they know the type of person I am and what I stand for."
While he's lost a considerable amount of supporters in Pittsburgh, Brown has a new fan base that -- for the most part -- is embracing him. Brown also continues to be embraced by his new coach -- Jon Gruden -- as well as Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, who recently said that, despite Brown's recent absences from the team, he has no doubt that he and Brown will be on the same page by the time the regular season begins.
"We spent a lot of time at my house throwing [this offseason]. We spent hours upon hours throwing," Carr said. "So there's chemistry, there's development. I'm used to throwing him the ball. It won't be brand new when he shows up. It will just be more on him getting the details of the routes. Getting out and doing it, correcting it on film and going and fixing it the next day. Those kinds of things. But besides that, the timing aspect, the meat and potatoes, so to speak, of what we need, it's there. Just those details when he gets back, we'll iron out."