There's a fun little conjecture storm brewing in the Boston area right now and it centers around, who else, wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown issued a "public" apology on Tuesday -- via both Instagram and Twitter -- to Patriots' owner Robert Kraft for since-deleted comments Brown .
Brown claimed after his release he still wanted to play for the Patriots, but it was widely reported/speculated his comments killed any chance of that happening because Kraft was (understandably) not happy. There was no chance Brown would end up back in New England without making public amends to Kraft.
Perhaps the apology was him doing just that? It was a highly specific and personal note directed to Kraft from AB.
Now, a cynic would probably point out how it looks like someone from AB's camp may have constructed this apology in a very AB-specific social media voice (the unusual punctuation, tons of exclamation points, etc.) only to accidentally leave in a semi-colon.
But the real conspiracy I'm interested in here is the significant buzz surrounding the idea of Brown returning to the Patriots.
It starts with comments made by Tom Brady in the wake of the latest Patriots offensive performance. New England went on the road and beat the Eagles 17-10 in a hard-fought game. Brady should have been excited about emerging from a tough place to play with a victory, right? Not in the slightest. He didn't answer a single question with more than five clipped sentences. Most of them were despondent-sounding answers that would make you think the Patriots fell to 3-7, not moved to 9-1.
Here's the entirety of his transcript with media members after the game:
On WR Julian Edelman's touchdown:
"He made a great throw. It was a great play. We needed it."
On struggles in the red zone:
"Yeah, yeah. I don't have anymore. I don't know."
On whether there is a way to remedy it or if it's just about practicing and execution:
"Yeah, I think that's right. Practice and execution."
On the offense at this point of the year:
"Up and down. That's what it looks like to me. We could probably do everything better."
On how he would describe their defense:
"They are doing a great job. Keeping us in every game."
On whether he is discouraged:
"Well, we just played for three hours. So I think everyone is a little tired."
On battling and games like this late in the season:
"Yeah, it's good to win. It's good to win. Go on the road and win is always tough. They all count the same. But anytime you go on the road and beat a good team is a good feeling."
On whether he is concerned about the offense or if it'll work its way out:
"I don't think it matters what I think, it matters what we do."
On how much WR Julian Edelman reminds him of his [Edelman's] passer rating:
"Not much. It was a good throw. So thank you guys."
I mean, the dude wasn't happy. He got banged around a ton in that game, with the Eagles getting pressure on him and Brady unable to find any real chemistry with his receivers on a pretty windy day. He's working a little short-handed right now. Julian Edelman is the go-to weapon, but other than that it's Philip Dorsett, Mohamed Sanu, N'Keal Harry (just activated from IR) and Jakobi Meyers.
Probably helping matters here is the recent announcement from Rob Gronkowski. It was after Brady's commentary, but it's entirely plausible he knew about it before the game. It involves a beach bash and a monster concert and the commercial features a "good" Gronk trying to convince the former tight end to come back to the game.
Anyway, Brady's short on weapons, he's 42 years old, he's getting beat up, he's on pace to throw more times than he ever has in his entire career, the Patriots offense isn't efficient or really functional and it's probably frustrating knowing that the blame would fall squarely on his head if the Pats fail to make a Super Bowl run because the offense isn't very good. Bill Belichick's defense is doing its job, it's worth noting in this equation.
So, is it possible the Patriots want to bring Brown back? That Brady and others have campaigned for Brown's return but there was a roadblock in the form of Kraft refusing to bring Brown onto the team? It's not far-fetched at all to consider. And perhaps the only way to appease Kraft is a public apology from Brown, in which case the wide receiver is doing just that on Tuesday after a rough day for the Patriots offense in Week 11 and with time running out on the season.
There is, of course, one more problem. Brown's status with the NFL remains very unclear. The mercurial in the wake of his meetings with the NFL, as the league continues to investigate a civil case . claiming Brown sexually assaulted them. It seems if he is signed, at least until the NFL wraps up the investigation into his off-field issues.
Raiders but he played in just a single game before in the wake of all the different allegations and accusations.by the
(among his many grievances) to recoup signing bonus and salary from New England after he was released. Presumably part of his deal with New England in this hypothetical would be to drop the grievance against the Patriots.
"If you guys follow the Patriots, tell them to call me,". "They still gotta pay me, so might as well let me earn it."
Plenty of obstacles remain, but it shouldn't be ruled out given how bad the Pats have looked on offense, how much they need a player with AB's skillset and how willing the Pats are to take personnel chances when they know a Super Bowl is lurking around the corner.