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Antonio Brown’s rift with the Steelers is definitely a ‘Madden’ curse

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The curse is back.

Antonio Brown and the Steelers appear to be parting ways and everyone is trying to work out how it got to this point. After extensive research I believe I’ve uncovered the root of the problem — Brown was on the cover of Madden.

See, most people are pointing to declining Steelers’ production, an aging team, and a growing rift with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. I think all these are fine explanations, but they ignore the clear and obvious fact that Brown was on the cover of Madden.

Doing a close reading of the cover it becomes obvious that there was trouble in paradise. One might mistake Brown’s expression for one of adulation, but what if it isn’t? The All-Pro wide receiver is surrounded by yellow, enveloped by it — trying desperately to shine despite having the ever-pervasive shade of his team surround him. This is not a look of happiness, but one of agony, realizing he cannot escape the Steelers.

Brown was still one of the best receivers in the NFL in 2018, posting yet another 1,200-yard season, but he toiled away joylessly. Feeling his talents were unappreciated he hid away, withdrew, and went under the radar.

I don’t know when they filmed The Masked Singer, but Brown performing Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” was astonishingly apt considering the issues he was having with the Steelers in 2018.

Everybody’s talkin’ all this stuff about me (Now now)
Why don’t they just let me live (Oh oh oh)
I don’t need permission
Make my own decisions (Oh)
That’s my prerogative

So here you have a man, driven by a lack of attention and respect out of college, still being doubted despite being one of the best in the league, and feeling trapped in a situation he had to get out of. Sure, a lot of people give Brown credit in his own right — but just as many continue to credit Roethlisberger for “making” Brown, which partially kicked this whole thing off in the first place.

The Madden cover didn’t cause Brown to become unhappy with the Steelers; it revealed his unhappiness to him. Now, normally the Madden Curse is resigned to injury, poor performance or a combination of both — but this year’s is perhaps the greatest curse leveraged, the once of self-realization.

So Brown, staring at himself on the cover of Madden 19, sees that oppressive yellow overshadowing him, sees his situation and feels claustrophobic. What does someone do when they feel like this? Well, if you’re an NFL player you likely look to others for advice, follow in their footsteps — and who better than a newly minted Hall of Famer to fuel that?

THAT’S RIGHT ... THIS IS A DOUBLE CURSE!

The Madden 19 Hall of Fame Edition, is an upgraded copy of Madden 19. Brown saw Terrell Owens on the cover, wearing a Cowboys uniform and saw a man who started his career on a team where he was beloved, made a change and said “That could be me.”

Owens played for the 49ers for eight seasons, Brown with the Steelers for nine.

Owens averaged 1,071 yards and 10.1 TDs
Brown averaged 1,245 yards and 8.2 TDs.

Then you realize that Brown and Owens have been in contact, with Brown specifically asking for his advice. We’re through the looking glass here, people.

What’s the point of all this?

The TL;DR is this: Brown was put on the cover of Madden 19 and realized that the Steelers weren’t right for him anymore. Seeking help, he looked at the cover of Madden 19 Hall of Fame Edition, saw Owens and said “If T.O. can do it, I can too.”

Also he sang a song dressed like a hippo.

The Madden Curse is real, and it’s terrifying.