“Actions speak louder than words”
That was the response from Oakland Raiders rookie general manager Mike Mayock when probed by NBC Bay Area reporter Scott Bair about the recently-ended saga with Antonio Brown prior to the team’s season-opening win over the Denver Broncos on Monday.
Mayock is correct in his choice of words, but perhaps not the way he intended them.
For most of the last month, Mayock sparred internally and externally with the star receiver, and in return, Brown jabbed back. Some of his antics made Terrell Owens performing sit ups in his driveway in front of hoards of reporters seem low-key.
As absurd as the sideshow became -- which was allegedly intentional on Brown’s behalf -- Mayock and the Raiders can only blame themselves.
When Oakland finally released Brown on Saturday, his $30 million in guaranteed money was voided and the team did not have to pay a cent of the $54 million extension signed after Mayock dealt a third and fifth-round pick to Pittsburgh in return on March 9.
But it was Mayock’s actions that were more glaring than Brown’s. The Raiders knew the type of player and personality that Brown was prior to his acquisition. While the team may have attempted to acquiesce to his helmet dispute or frost-bitten feet, the relationship went off the rails when Mayock told a gaggle of reporters Brown need to be, “all-in or all-out.”
It is telling that it took a matter of hours in free agency for Brown to land a deal with the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick is not known for bombastic quotes to reporters and neither are his players.
Yet, he was quick to pounce on one of the top receivers in the NFL, who intentionally disrupted his way out of $30 million.
Of course, Belichick is known for attempting to revive careers of ill-tempered or eccentric players, but for every Randy Moss, there is a Chad Ochocinco.
Ochocinco did not pan out during his short stint with the Patriots, but he was quiet while with the team. Gone were the elaborate celebrations, outlandish statements to the media or the list of cornerbacks he planned to beat taped to his locker.
While the 31-year-old Brown may have more juice left than Ochocinco did, there is no guarantee that he lives up to expectations that many have for New England to produce one of the greatest offenses in NFL history.
What is as close to a guarantee as there is in the NFL, is that while in Foxborough, Brown won’t be threatening to retire over a helmet or recording Belichick’s post-game speeches.
Part of New England’s culture of silence comes as much from Belichick’s actions. He is notoriously icy in team film sessions, but it does not extend to interviews. Belichick won’t be challenging Brown to be “all-in or all-out” publicly.
He also won’t get into screaming matches with Brown on the practice field, like Mayock did leading up to his final days in Oakland. While football is a testosterone-driven sport, it is still a business. When employees feel they can yell at their bosses, it does not translate to a strong business model in any profession.
Belichick’s model has won six Super Bowls. If Mayock continues to conduct business openly, he may not last six seasons.