If you’ve been following football for any amount of time, you probably know the name Antonio Brown. During his time in Pittsburgh, the wide receiver established himself as a dangerous offensive weapon; since leaving the Steel City, though, he’s found himself in the headlines for other reasons.
While it’s not clear what Antonio Brown’s future holds, he’ll presumably be wearing his signature number 84 jersey if he ever tries to mount an NFL comeback. That’s more than an aesthetic choice or a simple good luck charm, though; 84 has a deeper meaning to the receiver.
The rise and fall of Antonio Brown
A few years ago, Antonio Brown was one of the most dynamic receivers in professional football. These days, however, his stock has plummeted due to a variety of off-field issues.
After playing his college football at Central Michigan, Brown joined the Pittsburgh Steelers as a sixth-round draft pick. Despite that low draft stock and a tough rookie season, he quickly developed into a star.
While Brown became an elite offensive player in Pittsburgh, he eventually tired of life in Western Pennsylvania and requested a trade. The Steelers complied and dealt him to the Oakland Raiders; that move, however, proved to be the beginning of the end.
In Oakland, Brown became more of a sideshow attraction than ever before. He showed up to camp with frostbitten feet, threatened to retire, and got into an argument with Mike Mayock; the Raiders cut bait before the season even began.
Brown landed with the New England Patriots and seemed to find a home, but things wouldn’t last. After a former trainer accused Brown of sexual assault, as detailed by Sports Illustrated, he lost his job; his offseason also included some unrelated legal drama.
Number 84 reminds the receiver of his road to the pros
In the NFL, each position can choose from a limited range of jersey numbers. While wide receives have to wear a number between 10 and 19 and 80 and 89, Antonio Brown didn’t simply pick one off the list and call it a day.
As mentioned above, Brown joined the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 195th pick of the 2010 NFL draft. Although that position didn’t predict his rise to prominence, the receiver didn’t want to forget what happened; instead, he chose to use it as motivation.
“Well, my number is 84,” Brown once explained, according to SteelersWire. “Eight times four is 32. Thirty-two teams looked past me, even the Steelers. So every time I go out there it’s a little added motivation.”
In New England, however, 84 was taken, so Brown switched to number 17 instead. According to NBC Sports, he did so in honor of his father, who wore the same number during his Arena Football career.
Will we ever see Antonio Brown and his 84 jersey again?
Purely from a sporting perspective, most football fans would love to see Antonio Brown pull on an 84 jersey and hit the gridiron. At this point, it’s unclear if that will ever happen.
While NFL teams have never hesitated to overlook personal issues if a player can make an impact on Sundays, Brown may be a bridge too far. When you look the last calendar year, nothing inspires confidence; between legal issues, sexual assault accusations, and threats of retirement, there isn’t a great deal to inspire confidence. If nothing else, an eight-game suspension will probably prevent anyone from signing him until at least the midpoint of the 2020 campaign.
With all of that being said, though, all it takes is one general manager to get desperate for some help at wide receiver. Will we see Antonio Brown and his famous 84 jersey make a comeback? Only time will tell.