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Old 01-22-2011, 11:43 PM   #1
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Default Collier: Brown looked hard and found positives

Collier: Brown looked hard and found positives
Sunday, January 23, 2011
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

All the physiological and strategic challenges to be erected by the New York Jets for today's AFC championship game at Heinz Field represent little short of the classical architecture of looming failure for rookie pass catchers.

Hyper-talented pass defenders and post-graduate level defensive designs should eliminate the threat posed by someone like Antonio Brown, at least. Today, for all its manufactured urgency, might not be one of those amazing days when some 22-year-old sixth-rounder goes from absolute zero in your consciousness to oh-my-God-look-at-this in 4.4 seconds.

That was last week.

But then, everything that should probably have eliminated Antonio Brown from this place in his life has failed shockingly, just as every bad thing that should have doomed him to the worst outcomes of the endless urban nightmare of Miami's Liberty City failed as well.

"In the midst of negativity," he said at lunch this week, "a positive sight can be blurred."


"In the midst of negativity, a positive sight can be blurred."

And you're how old again?

"I mean I had a lot of distractions that wouldn't have helped me. It's easy to make the wrong decisions, harder to be looking for positives, especially in Liberty City."

The blocks between North 41st Street and North 79th just west of I-95 house more than half of Miami's African-American population. Millions of teens and adults navigate it vicariously in the ultra-violent video game Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City, negotiating the societal sinkholes of drugs, gangs, handguns, assault weapons, organized crime, and random, lethal, disorganized crime. About 30,000 other people live the reality of it day after desperate day, year after soul-draining year.

One really bad day, Antonio Brown's mother (he never saw much of his father) moved in with another man. That man put Antonio out on the street. He was 16. He was homeless.

"I just tried to think of positive things because I knew God wouldn't be putting me through that for no reason," he said. "I knew I was a good person. I knew because of my grandmother. She lived to be about 95. She taught me to pray every day and believe every day no matter how bad things looked.

"She told me I was talented."

She told him that without timing him in the 40. Sometimes you don't have to be somebody's grandma to see the brilliance in them.

"He had me with that smile," Jackie Mansfield was telling me Friday. "He's just a humble, sincere, great, great kid. I have three boys, one 5 and 4-year-old twins. They're so taken with him. They all wear the 84 shirts when we watch the games now."

Jackie is part owner of the W South Beach, the swank hotel, where she was introduced to Brown by a real estate associate. After putting together luminescent statistical seasons at North Carolina Tech and then Central Michigan, Antonio declared for the NFL draft last winter.

"He didn't have anywhere to watch it," Jackie said. "I asked him if he wanted to watch it in one of our bungalows. When he got drafted by the Steelers, that was just amazing because I've been a Steeler fan all my life. My parents were from Pittsburgh."

The first time he touched the football in an NFL game, he returned it 89 yards for a touchdown. In his first post-season game, he bolted down the right sideline on a third-and-19 and caught a 58-yard bomb from Ben Roethlisberger that set up the winning touchdown against the Ravens last Sunday.

"He's just done a phenomenal job with the ball in his hands," Hines Ward marveled again this week. "Converting that third-and-19; I was just so elated for him."

So now Brown pulls on 84 for his first AFC title game. The Jets, a step from their widely broadcast manifest destiny, suddenly have to be aware of the 195th player taken in the draft. I don't suspect he'll get frustrated. Don't expect him to look across at Gang Green and see an obstacle. Antonio Brown sees positives, sees opportunities, sees the things that, by his own eloquence, "can be blurred" against a backdrop of hopelessness.

He even sees his mother pretty regularly.

"You want to like everyone," he said. "The relationship is not what it should be between parent and son, but I've learned to forgive things. She had it tough, too, you know. She grew up in Liberty City."

Gene Collier: gcollier@post-gazette.com.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11023...#ixzz1BpnB2hV7
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:35 AM   #2
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Default Re: Collier: Brown looked hard and found positives

Nice column on Antonio Brown that indicates you can overcome the circumstances in which you grow up

Imagine dealing with this when you are 16 years old

One really bad day, Antonio Brown's mother (he never saw much of his father) moved in with another man. That man put Antonio out on the street. He was 16. He was homeless.
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