×

The opinion on Brown: Steelers need him more than Pats

The cashier in Nashua Sunday morning had this one question.

“Think it will work out? How long do you give it?” he asked.

He wasn’t talking about any celebrity marriage. But rather the marriage, of course, between the New England Patriots and mercurial receiver Antonio Brown.

Everybody’s got an opinion, and the other question is has there ever been a New England Patriots season opener when the game, is pretty much the secondary story?

That’s pretty much what Sunday night’s New England Patriots 33-3 rout of the . the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium felt like. OK, once they kicked off, the focus was on the game. Kinda. Sorta.

Brown is expected to join the Patriots today, and not much was expected in terms of comments from the Patriots on Sunday since he wasn’t officially a member of the team. Patriots Bill Belichick declinced comment after the game about Brown, with the ol’ “I’ll talk about the game and the players who are on our team” line, but NBC play-by-play man Al Michaels got some great info from the Krafts. Michaels said that team owner Robert Kraft told him when Kraft told Brady the team had traded for Antonio Brown, Brady said “I’m 100 percent in.” Then Brady came back twice with a higher percentage, topping out at “a million percent in.”

And, added Michaels, Brady offered to have Brown stay with him until he gets settled. And Brady said after the game, “Everbody’s excited when you add great players. … We’re all excited to have him.”

So much for controversy, huh?

Incredible. And, of course, the fans are mostly on board. Heck, a few greeted him when his plane landed Sunday morning at Providence’s T.F. Green Airport.

Some are using pure logic.

“Brown’s signing is a low-risk, high reward deal,” said former Merrimack principal Ken Johnson, a longtime Patriot season ticket holderwho made the trip up from his year-plus retirment home in North Carolina for Sunday night’s game. “Belichick runs the show, and in due time, AB needs to earn Brady’s trust. …But with Brown on board opponents won’t be able to double team No. 11 (Julian Edelman).”

Yes, it’s fandom at its finest. Now you just hold your breath. You have to wonder, can both Brown and the five-time suspended Josh Gordon stick with this team for the entire season given their history? Gordon had three catches for 73 yards and a TD, and actually talked at length after Sunday night’s game, rather than just the three question thing he did last year.

“Antonio is Antonio,” he said. “He’s going to have to figure out his own way, just like everybody else has.”

The more you think about it, Brown’s foolish Raider antics could have been some clever orchestrated sequence to escape GrudenLand. Not saying it was, but somebody had to produce that video with the Gruden call mixed in, right?

In any event, Gillette fans were treated to their own production pre-game, with the lights turned out and GodSmack performing. A huge logo in the middle of the field with Drew Bledsoe, Ty Law, Willie McGuinest, Rob Ninkovich, Martellus Bennett, and owner Robert Kraft each holding up a Lombardi trophy, and represented the five previous Super Bowl victories, and Rob Gronkowski also stepping out and spiking a football. The crowd roared.

Now all we were waiting for was a shot of Brown on the video board showing him in the stadium. Didn’t happen in the first half, though. The NFL probably wouldn’t have liked that.

But the Patriots seemed to be doing fine without him. They dominated the Steelers, and they had their own deep guy Sunday night in Phillip Dorsett, who had two TD catches.

“He can definitely stretch the field,” said Belichick.

Meanwhile, the Patriots talked fairly freely about Brown in the locker room.

“Anything out on the field he can do,” Patriots safety Duron Harmon said. “And he does it at an elite level. Looking forward to having him as a teammate, him pushing me in practice and me pushing him in practice.”

Dorsett is looking forward to having Brown as well, and says he wasn’t trying to prove anything or claim his spot in the receivers room with his performance.

“No, absolutely not,” Dorsett said. “At the end of the day, this is a team. We have great comraderie in the room and we look forward to adding him to it. … We just have to get him up to speed. I feel like he can be great for us.”

“I think it could be really good,” Edelman said. “We like football players that love football. … He’s a playmaker. The more playmakers you have, the more dynamic it can be. Gotta love football here.”

And that’s what former Patriot receiver Randy Moss wonders about Brown.

“Are you ready for some football? And that’s the only question I have for him,” Moss said on ESPN’s Sunday Countdown. “Anytime Antonio Brown has showed up on your phone or any server, it has nothing to do with football.

“The next time I see Antonio Brown on my phone, it’s got to be touchdowns. Football from here on out.”

Is that possible? One thing with the Patriots, always expect the unexpected.

That cashier would probably agree.

Tom King may be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK.tking@nashuatelegraph.com