“He looks fantastic. I think we had really good conversations today, he and I,” Arians said Wednesday, the first day Brown could enter the facility, because incoming players are required to test six consecutive days for the coronavirus and, if negative on the five previous tests, may enter on the sixth day. “He was in the meetings and everything. And he’s working with Anthony Piroli and the strength staff. He looks in great shape. Yeah, ready to go next week.”
Brown is in the final week of his eight-game suspension for multiple violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, however, so he was permitted only to work out with the strength and conditioning staff and attend meetings. He was not allowed to practice with the team.
“It went real well. He and I had a good conversation this morning,” Arians said. “He’ll be ready to go next week and in good shape.”
Arians was asked how he anticipated Brown, who was fined $54,000 by the Raiders for missing time in training camp and unexcused absences, would handle the extensive league-mandated protocols for COVID-19.
“He wants to play. If you want to play, you’ve got to do it,” Arians said. “In our conversation today, it’s, ‘Go to football practice, go to work, come home and go back to work.’ He’s all-in. I don’t think we’ll have any problems with those things.”
Arians coached Brown when both were with the Steelers, but the two haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. Arians said of Brown back in 2019, “There’s too much miscommunication … too much diva.” In a since-deleted tweet, Brown criticized former teammate Emmanuel Sanders and mocked Arians’ trademark kangol hat and glasses.
A big part of Brown’s success in Tampa will hinge on his relationship with quarterback Tom Brady. The two spent 11 days as teammates when Brown was with the New England Patriots last season before he was cut but became fast friends as Brady even offered Brown the chance to stay with him in New England until he found a place to live.
Some have questioned why Brady would risk his own reputation by not only befriending Brown but going to bat for him. Brown, 32, has twice been accused of sexual misconduct in the past year, and he’s currently on felony probation for burglary with battery charges. Brady explained that it’s about more than winning and that he has tried to have a positive impact on Brown, as well as other teammates who have run afoul with the law or gotten into trouble with the NFL.
“I had a lot of people support me over the years, realizing that I was far from where I needed to be and they would guide me and provide me with the help that I needed as a player to reach my potential,” Brady said Wednesday. “I think that’s — how you impact people, and we talk about that a lot as professional athletes — how you impact people on the field is one thing, how you impact people off the field is another. So whether that’s teammates that you can impact or people in the community that you can impact, I think all those things are important.
“You just try your best every day, realizing that a lot of people weren’t born with the same advantages that I’ve had growing up, they weren’t born with the same background or support systems that I had. I think that when you recognize that and bring that to relationships, all’s you can do is the best you can do. For me, I think that’s something I really enjoy still about playing football, is that I probably have more perspective than just about every player in the league right now, based on my years of experience and what I’ve seen. I want to see other guys succeed. And I think a lot of joy in my experience comes from seeing other people be their best and seeing people succeed in ways that can set their family up. I think that’s a really important aspect of football for me.”
Brown will be permitted to start practicing with the Bucs right after their Monday Night Football game at the New York Giants. Getting him up to speed quickly will be imperative because Pro Bowl wide receiver Chris Godwin, who had 1,333 receiving yards last season — third in the league — might not be ready to play in Week 9 when the New Orleans Saints come to town. Godwin underwent surgery Tuesday after suffering a broken finger on a fourth-quarter touchdown catch Sunday.
“I was totally surprised by it when we got back,” Arians said. “He looked fine leaving the stadium and we find out he has to have surgery. I think it’s very optimistic that he’ll be back in a week. But it could be possible. We don’t really know how long but yeah, so that’s why we have the insurance policy [Antonio Brown].”