By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It seems as though Bill Belichick really likes Mr. Big Chest, aka Antonio Brown, aka the man who hijacked every NFL offseason storyline with his run of bizarre behavior during his brief tenure with the Oakland Raiders.
Belichick’s fondness for Brown was apparent when he tried to acquire the receiver via trade after last season (according to agent Drew Rosenhaus), and it was clear and obvious when Belichick wasted no time in adding the receiver as soon as he became available this past weekend.
Because the Patriots have a certain way of doing business, and because Brown has his own certain way of doing business, the New England head coach was asked Tuesday morning exactly how this relationship can work.
Belichick’s answers were emphatic, and he even referred back to the controversial-at-the-time trade for Randy Moss back in 2007.
“Well, I wasn’t in either one of those places [Pittsburgh or Oakland], so I really can’t comment on what did or didn’t happen there,” Belichick said.
As for all of the drama, criticism, and misbehavior that’s been reported on, Belichick seemed unfazed.
“It’s the same thing you [collectively] said about Randy Moss when we brought him in,” Belichick said.
Belichick also indicated that the team is waiting to actually work with Brown before coming to any positive or negative assessments.
“Well, we think he’ll help our team, but until we start working with him — part of that is actually having a hands-on opportunity to work with a player and see exactly how everything fits together and what we can develop,” Belichick said. “We’ll just have to see how that goes.”
While Moss’ tenure in New England ended abruptly and rather poorly, that was only after Moss set an NFL record with 23 touchdown receptions in 2007, a record that still stands. After catching just 102 passes for 1,558 yards and 11 touchdowns in two disappointing seasons in Oakland, Moss caught 167 passes for 2,501 yards and 34 touchdowns in his first two seasons in New England — and that was despite playing the entirety of his second season with Matt Cassel as his quarterback instead of Tom Brady. Moss produced again in 2009, leading the league with 13 touchdown receptions, before the Patriots traded him to Minnesota early in the 2010 season.
By Belichick’s best estimation, the fact that Moss entered the organization with similar questions helps alleviate concerns this time around that Brown might cause problems. Whether he’s ultimately proven right or wrong depends entirely on Brown, but it is worth noting that Brown has caused zero issues and brought no negative attention to himself or the Patriots for more than 48 hours, as of Tuesday morning. After a tumultuous stretch of days last week, that is a noted improvement.
In one more comment that applies to the situation, Belichick was asked at the end of his conference call with Miami reporters to define the so-called Patriot Way.
“Yeah, I don’t know that I’ve ever used that term. I’m not really sure what that is either,” Belichick replied. “I appreciate you asking about it though, but I don’t know. It’s a good question.”