Here is all you really need to know. Tampa Bay Bucs star Antonio Brown refused to enter the game when so ordered during the third quarter of Sunday’s NFL game between the Bucs and New York Jets. Brown then stripped off his equipment and shirt before leaving the field. Jenkins says that the Bucs were cruel and unfair to fire him after the game, which is what they did. (Sort of.)
She writes in part,
For all of the NFL’s well-intentioned efforts on mental health, the Buccaneers have betrayed just how much of an archaic, body-commodifying, ranchers-and-cattle mentality can persist where decent human feeling should be. Was Brown not an asset and a “model citizen” for many months, as Arians said? Did he not help them win the Super Bowl last season? He caught 10 passes for his playoff-bound team just a week ago. Who on the Bucs didn’t know Brown had a tangled personality, demons stemming from indigence as a kid, that he had a pile of legal issues, trouble conforming and a penchant for self-sabotage?
It’s easy to be sympathetic to Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka or Michael Phelps for their mental health issues. Their struggles were largely invisible, their confessions soft-spoken. Not so much with Brown. In his case, he lives his crazy and his pain right out loud, in front of the cameras and social media, and it’s unnerving, unlikeable and in some instances perhaps inexcusable, from alleged sexual misconduct to refusing to pay debtors to faking a vaccine card. But the remarks of his teammates make it clear that they have deep affection for his best side and view much of his behavior as stemming from emotional unwellness….
It’s hard to think of another field in which so valuable an employee is so summarily cut loose when deemed broken or noncompliant. …Brown works harder than any man in the league to be uncoverable…His body fat is 3 percent. You don’t work that way because you don’t want to play to win or because you want to be an unreliable teammate. In no other profession do employers demand such devotion and repay it with so little loyalty and deem people so disposable.
I wish I could say it’s rare to see a sports columns so flamingly wrong in so many ways, but that’s not true, unfortunately. But wow: Jenkins is in ethics dunce Hall of Fame territory…
1. I’d like Sally Jenkins to try refusing an assignment for her paper and then stripping off her clothes in the Post offices. This conduct will get almost anyone fired in almost any business, profession or industry, and should…especially on a professional sports team. Once a team has tolerated such conduct from one player, team discipline is impossible. Indeed, simply refusing to play when the coach says so alone is ground for termination. The stripping is just added provocation.
2. Jenkins is literally arguing for The King’s Pass. Brown should get away with his tantrum because he’s just so darn good.
3. Then she casually throws in references to Brown’s other misconduct: alleged sexual misconduct…refusing to pay debtors…faking a vaccine card.” Those are properly arguments for why he should have been fired before his meltdown, and she is using them as reasons to pander to his eccentricities. In for a penny, in for a pound!
4. I’m not sympathetic to either Simone Biles or Naomi Osaka, as Ethics Alarms has made quite clear. Both of them demanded special treatment because they are super-stars, which is exactly what Jenkins is arguing Brown deserves.
The encouraging news is that the Washington Post readers appear to overwhelmingly reject Jenkins’ arguments. One writes, “…[W]hen an employee walks off the job—in the middle of performing a job that his colleagues and employer are relying on him to perform—I don’t know of any employer in any field that would run after such an employee to bring him back and risk the same results happening again.” Another says, “Sorry Sally but Brown is an entitled spoiled millionaire who has been a cancer in every locker room he has been in. There is absolutely no reason for a professional athlete to conduct himself in the manner Brown did.” And another: “I for one am very tired of all this liberal BS about how organizations like the NFL are effectively modern plantations, where the “workers” have no rights and no autonomy. Brown could have retired years ago with tens of millions of dollars in the bank, and he CHOSE not to. It is likely that he has some mental health issues, and I sympathize. There is no question in my mind that all the teams he has worked for offer help in this regard, and he has chosen not to take it.”