Antonio Brown wasn’t the only one who felt pain from the vicious Vontaze Burfict helmet shot in the AFC wild-card round.
Brown’s father had a tough time shaking that one, too.
‘Touchdown’ Eddie Brown, an Arena Football League legend who was absent for parts of Brown’s childhood but reconnected nearly a decade ago, said he’s not bitter at Burfict for the dirty hit that prompted a three-game suspension for the Cincinnati Bengals linebacker.
But watching the moment itself was grueling. Brown suffered a concussion that sidelined him for the 23-16 divisional round loss to the Denver Broncos.
“The hard part is when you see your kid lying on the floor like that, not having any control over his body,” Eddie said. “The concern goes to whether he’ll get up, the fact he had no control over his body, possibly unconscious. You just hope and pray. No hard feelings toward anyone. I don’t have any kind of energy for those types of things. I’m not that kind of person. That’s not who I am.”
Brown has moved on from the disappointing end to 2015, which he pretty much owned, producing one of the best receiving seasons in NFL history with 136 catches, 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Brown struggled with missing the game because he couldn’t help his teammates, and the concussion broke his weekly routine of preparation, Eddie said. Of course, Brown’s presence for one more game could have elevated the Pittsburgh Steelers to the AFC championship round at New England.
For now, though, Brown is too busy self-evaluating his body of work to dwell on Denver.
“Right about now, he’ll start analyzing all his routes from each of his games, what he did really well, then he’ll ask me what I think,” said Eddie about his son’s process. “He looks at every route from every game he’s run. Then he’ll do an evaluation.”
Eddie, who starred for the Albany/Indiana Firebirds in the late '90s and early 2000s, used to walk his son through routes as early as the second grade, when Brown lived with his dad in Albany, N.Y. For background on Brown’s relationship with his dad, ESPN’s Rick Reilly told the story well a few years ago
The way Eddie sees it, Brown has been torching opposing cornerbacks ever since he showed up late to an offseason workout after his rookie season in 2010. “(Coach Mike) Tomlin don’t play that,” said Eddie, who noticed Brown’s dedication and focus shift after the discipline from his head coach.
Eddie expected greatness from his son, but he’s not sure he expected these numbers.
“I don’t think there are any words that can actually be used to describe it,” Eddie said. “As a dad, you only dream of your son having the opportunity to play in the NFL. When you have a son that’s the best receiver in the world, just... wow.”