If Antonio Brown was faking it, he’s a method actor because he’s really committing to his role.
The Steelers’ star receiver remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol as Pittsburgh readies to play Denver in the divisional round of the playoffs, something Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones may find surprising because the former “Pacman” believes Bryant put on an Academy Award-winning performance when laid out by Vontaze Burfict’s forearm shiver late in Saturday night’s 18-16 Steelers win over the Bengals.
The play set off a chain of events that led to Pittsburgh’s triumph, a 15-yard personal foul call on Burfict and another 15 yards tacked on when Jones brushed an official while jawing at Steelers’ assistant coach Joey Porter, who was on the field along with numerous others that really shouldn’t have been, checking on Brown.
The added yardage turned what had been shaping up as a difficult field goal in challenging conditions for the win into a far more manageable 35-yard attempt for Chris Boswell. Of course, as Blair Walsh showed less than 24 hours later, nothing is a gimmee when the stakes are high.
That said Boswell did his job and extended Cincinnati’s playoff misery to a quarter century and Marvin Lewis’ postseason log to 0-7. The wild final events of the game didn’t sit well with Jones, who was seen weeping on the bench after the contest before going on an expletive-filled social media rant, blaming the officials for losing control.
By Monday, Jones had set his sights on Burfict’s hit on Brown, something that would have been championed in the 1970s NFL but was unquestionably a penalty in today’s more safety-conscious environment.
“Nah, Antonio Brown was not hurt,” Jones said on the Dan Patrick Radio Show. “I know he was faking it. Go back and look at the play. If you go back in slow motion, you tell me Vontaze hit him in the head, or if his shoulder pads barely touched him.”
Jones also claimed that Brown winked at the Bengals while leaving the field.
“I think he needs a GRAMMY award for that one,” Jones said, although he certainly meant Academy Award for best actor in an end-of-game situation.
Players in every sport try to draw favorable calls from officials and every receiver in this league does it on a weekly basis. Whether or not Brown was hurt as badly as he let on at first is inconsequential. Burfict’s act was a penalty and the right call was made on the field.
The real issue came afterward and the second flag probably should have been picked up because both sides were at fault in an emotional situation. That stipulated, it was Jones who lost his poise and gave the officials on the field an opportunity to make a mistake and perhaps cost his team a victory.
And Brown’s “acting skills” has nothing to do with that.
“The point is, everybody want to talk about Vontaze and the way he plays,” Jones continued. “But if you go back and watch the film, watch the film of the whole game. It’s not just like when we play against them, it’s every time they play against somebody. If you go back and watch the whole game in slow-motion, different part even when 73 (offensive lineman Ramon Foster) after the play kicks him in his heel — I mean blatantly, he’s just walking back to the huddle, he kicks him — they threw that one. If you go just go back and watch the whole game, you’ll be surprised with the film.”
Surprised or not, Burfict certainly has a poor reputation around the league and was suspended without pay for the first three games of the 2016 regular season Monday for repeated violations of safety-related playing rules.
The suspension, imposed by former defensive back Merton Hanks, who is now the NFL’s vice president of football operations, alleges that Burfict’s actions placed Brown at unnecessary risk of injury and should have been avoided.
ESPN reported Monday “it’s not looking good” for Brown to play Sunday in Denver. Most, however, believe Brown will be on the field against the Broncos, undoubtedly looking for a call or two from the assigned crew.
The difference is the Denver defensible backfield won’t be losing its poise because of it.
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season every day at 4:05 ET on ESPN South Jersey, on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the Sports Bash on ESPN South Jersey.
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