The Patriots need to listen to a story. It comes from one of Antonio Brown's former offensive teammates in Oakland. And it sheds light on what Brown's future is likely to be in New England.
"Everyone is happy he's gone," the player, who asked not to be identified, said. "We're tired of the drama. Time for us to be a team."
The player said Brown, who was released by Oakland on Saturday before he took a single snap in a game for the franchise he was traded to in March, was well-liked in the locker room, but the showdown between Brown and the team became too extreme to be tenable. The entire locker room, this player said, had given up on the receiver and wanted him out.
After the Patriots signed Brown a few hours after his release, in a move B/R's Master Tesfatsion initially reported was imminent, it's fair to wonder if those in New England's locker room might wish for the same soon.
It's telling when players give up on one of their own. They see themselves as a football family. But Brown's behavior in Oakland was so bizarre, so ugly, the locker room wanted one of its own excommunicated.
The anonymous Raiders player confirmed this week that Brown apologized to the team after he got into an altercation with general manager Mike Mayock. Brown was backed by all of the team's captains. It sent a message to the players: Let him back into the Raiders family.
When Brown put a private conversation between him and Jon Gruden onto Instagram on Friday night, though, he violated the trust not only of a coach who had publicly supported him, but also of those captains who had his back. That did not sit well with the locker room, the player explained. So, the Raiders fined Brown $215,073.53 for conduct detrimental to the team and then voided $29.125 million in guaranteed money; he then asked for his release on Instagram, which was granted shortly thereafter.
Now the star receiver is a Patriot, which, on paper, makes a lot of sense.
Brown, in the short term, will make the Patriots one of the most formidable offenses in football history. He joins Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, a terrific running game and a group of coaches who excel at making talent blend. Oh, and there's that Tom Brady guy. (There's also the possibility Rob Gronkowski returns.)
The Patriots are banking on the fact that their system will keep Brown in line. After all, they did make things work with difficult players in the past, such as Randy Moss.
This time, however, this move will blow up in their faces.
As the Raiders teammate noted above, and many others from Brown's past would echo, there is no system, no coach, no act of God that can keep Brown happy or restrained.
He is a team-wrecker. Brown will destroy this opportunity as he did others and take the Patriots down a notch while doing it.
Bill Belichick is one of the greats, but he isn't a deity. OK, maybe he is a football god, but not even he can keep Brown happy. No one can.
Yes, it worked with Moss and the Pats, but Brown isn't Moss. No amount of winning or bending to his demands has made him a happy player.
He got everything he wanted in Pittsburgh and still self-detonated to the point that the Steelers benched him while they were about to play a game with a playoff spot on the line.
In Oakland, the Raiders tolerated his stupid cryotherapy accident and his stupid helmet rebellion. They even brought him back after he reportedly screamed at Mayock and called him a racial slur.
In both cases, the Steelers and Raiders seemed content to send Brown the message that talent trumps everything—until Brown made it clear to both organizations that even that wasn't enough to satisfy him.
Are the Patriots so great an organization that they can change something the Raiders and Steelers couldn't?
Given all the fines, the suspension, all the teammates left wondering who Brown really is, it's clear not even Tom Brady or Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks or any Tom you can name will stop Brown from self-destructing.
It may take a week or a month. But it will happen.
Brown can't help it. Even if his issues stem from garden-variety uber-selfishness, his behavior has become so erratic that teams are at a loss as to how to deal with him.
The Patriots will find this out too. Will Brown seamlessly fit in simply because he switched locker rooms over the course of six hours? Did exits as intense and ugly as Brown engineered twice in less than a year reveal anything?
They should have.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.