Last Friday, Antonio Brown posted what appeared to be a heartfelt statement on his Instagram page expressing remorse for his recent actions that left him exiled from the NFL. Brown was obviously hoping that his note would lead to some progress with regard to his possible return to the league after being released by the Patriots back in September. 

Nothing has changed in the week following Brown’s note. While Brown remains unsigned, the Patriots will reportedly not bring him back despite their injuries at the receiver position. Shortly after that story hit the media mainstream, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters that the league’s investigation of a civil suit regarding Brown’s alleged sexual misconduct with a former trainer is still ongoing. Goodell added that he has not spoken to Brown, who on Friday issued a new note that a far cry from the message he sent out to the world last Friday. 

Last week I wrote a post opening up telling people how I was feeling at the time. Man what a difference a week makes. I worked my entire life to earn the right to play in the National Football League. After putting it all on the line week after week and putting my body and my mind through some gruesome workouts, it was taken away from me. I’m hurt, I’m disappointed and I’m angry all at the same time. I feel abandoned by people who I trusted and they turned their backs on me and helped take away what I loved. As a man, I ain’t begging for nothing and I ain’t going to let people treat me any kind of way. I earned the right to play in the NFL! So why was it taken away? It’s been over 3 months and I haven’t heard from anyone. But y’all want me to beg to play!? I feel abandoned by a league I gave my all to. 14 weeks and it’s nothing. Put yourself in my shoes for a minute. You go to work everyday and one day the supervisor tells you to go home and they’ll call you and let you know when to come back. Looking at the big picture, I can clearly see where the problems are. Sometimes the people that’s supposed to fix them are the ones that’s stopping the progress. If a team calls, I’ll be ready and in shape but I’m not begging nobody for a job.

Brown has three major things going against him in his quest to return to the NFL this season. The major hurdle he has to overcome is the fact that his civil suit — and the NFL’s investigation of that suit — is still ongoing. This means that while Brown can still be signed by an NFL team, he would likely immediately be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list if he were, which would make him ineligible to play for the team that signs him.

How Brown left his previous three teams is also a red flag. After burying the Steelers under a mountain of negative publicity, Brown eventually forced a trade that sent him to Oakland, where he then forced his release following a bizarre summer that included his helmet and frozen feet drama. After being released by the Patriots, Brown criticized Patriots owner Robert Kraft on social media before deleting his posts. 

The attention Brown garners is also a reason why teams are likely balking at the prospect of signing him. While his ability as a player is undeniable, so is the fact that Brown has created his fair share of controversial headlines over the past several years. Making matters worse for Brown is that the Steelers, to a man, have admitted that fewer distractions this season has contributed to Pittsburgh’s surprising 8-5 record. 

“It’s really nice just focusing on football this year,” guard David DeCastro said in a story written by Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. 

Pittsburgh’s success without Brown, along with the fact that the Patriots would rather struggle at receiver rather than sign Brown, are two examples of how Brown’s recent issues have overshadowed his tremendous talent. Apparently, NFL teams have decided, in Brown’s case, the juice is no longer worth the squeeze. 

The lone consistent message from Brown’s last two notes is his desire to play again. But while the main message is still the same, the defiant tone in Brown’s newest note may cause an even longer delay in his eventual return to the NFL.