BENZ: Ravens' Lamar Jackson wants Antonio Brown. Is he crazy? Or onto something?

(Greensburg) Tribune-Review (TNS)
Lamar Jackson

I’ve been quite happy with how the NFL has managed to socially distance itself from former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown.

The league has been much farther than six feet away from A.B. since September.

Now NFL MVP Lamar Jackson wants Brown to return. And he’d like to see Mr. Big Chest in Baltimore with him as a Raven.

Jackson made the comments on the same day he was given the EA Sports Madden NFL 21 video game cover.

That “honor” has a reputation of bringing a jinx with it. Jackson may want to be careful about doubling down. Who needs a jinx when you have a walking curse like Brown in your locker room?

Over the past 13 months, Brown has “cursed” the Steelers, Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots.

Jackson doesn’t seem to care, though. Like so many others, he appears smitten with Brown’s raw talent.

Oakland Raiders' Antonio Brown walks off the field after NFL football practice in Alameda, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Earlier this month in Florida, Jackson and Brown worked out with Brown’s cousin, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, to stay sharp during the covid-19 shut-in. “Hollywood” caught seven touchdowns with the Ravens last season as a rookie.

Back on April 6, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta tap-danced around any direct comments regarding the troubled former Steelers wide receiver.

“Those are in-house things,” DeCosta said. “Those are my feelings, personal feelings, about that situation. I don’t really feel the need to share that with you all right now.

“It doesn’t really serve any purpose for us to talk about (free agents) right now. There’s really no benefit to do that, so I think I’ll just leave that one alone.”

We’ll see if DeCosta has any change of heart given his star quarterback’s endorsement.

Is there is any reason to believe that Brown would be any better behaved in Baltimore than he was in his previous stops? No. He is an MVP of self-immolation. He is a carnivore of his own opportunities.

I’m betting that he’d find a way to screw this up, just like he did the other three chances that he got.

Four. If you want to count how he truncated his own sliver of an attempt at joining the New Orleans Saints late last year.

But if Jackson or DeCosta ever want to convince head coach John Harbaugh — or owner Steve Bisciotti — of giving Brown a shot, here’s how they should go about it.

• Timing: This signing doesn’t have to happen today. This is going to be the shortest offseason ever. Less time for Brown around the facility means fewer chances for him to screw up.

He’s essentially locked up like the rest of us. No chance to speed down the local highway, allegedly throw furniture off a balcony, allegedly attack a truck driver, or freeze his feet off in France.

If the Ravens don’t sign Brown, no one else will.

Wait until the season starts. Let him take his pending suspension from the NFL in the wake of his sexual misconduct allegations. He’ll stay away from the team for eight weeks. They won’t have to deal with his annoyances. Then he’ll come back from suspension and be ready in time for a playoff chase.

• Brown should finally understand it’s his last chance: Should.

His star agent (Drew Rosenhaus) ditched him. A dozen good opportunities have come and gone since the Patriots released him in September. No one sniffed at him. He has to know how close to persona non grata he has become.

Doesn’t he?

• Revenge is boomin’: Staying in the AFC North gives him two shots a year against Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin, JuJu Smith-Schuster and the Steelers. Maybe that focus will keep him on the rails.


• ’Sup cuz?: If Marquise Brown — his own cousin — is getting the ball instead of him, Antonio Brown is less likely to have a meltdown like he did in Pittsburgh when Smith-Schuster was emerging.

However, if it’s tight end Mark Andrews getting all the targets and Jackson is pulling the ball down and running more than Brown is getting passes, well …

… eh, yeah. Who am I kidding? Forget I brought it up.

And, Lamar, you should forget it, too. Even though you can build a pretty good case.