The Id of "The Antonio Brown" (Observations From the Edge, by the Courier's Lee Kann)

In this Feb. 28, 2017, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, left, smiles as he is introduced by Steelers President Art Rooney II for a news conference about Brown’s contract extension at the NFL football team’s headquarters, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

The id is a strange and wondrous place. It’s a funny thing and it does funny stuff (not ha-ha funny but funny weird). If not kept in check and balance, it can contribute to, idiosyncrasies, idiothermicy,  idiomorphousis idioneurosis, idiopathy, and a host of other idiotisms. And too much of an out-of-control id can transform the id into the idiot. This happens often with human beings, especially those who are rich or famous or both. I believe that beings were not meant to have wealth or notoriety…or God forbid, too much of each. People don’t know what to do with them (this I won’t have to worry about), so they act out in strange and recalcitrant ways. I mean, look at Jussie Smollett for instance. He is accused of the crime of wanting more of both, and shaming to get it. What is that about? Ask the id!  

 Or how about the general behavior of “The Donald” Trump? Check in with the id!

According to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality, the id is the personality component made up of unconscious and instinctive psychic energy that works to satisfy basic urges, needs, and desires. It is the reservoir of the libido.  Id operates based on the pleasure principle, which demands immediate gratification of need.


Speaking of gratification of urges and needs, here is Antonio Brown, who appears as though his id has been expropriated and somehow annexed. Like “The Donald” Trump, “The Antonio” Brown is bursting with barrages of twits and tweets, most of them in idioms. He has managed to keep himself in the Paris Hilton-like spotlight and the Kim Kardashian-like flavor of the week…after week, after week, after week. His need to be noticed is wholly noticeable.  

I get the Le’Veon Bell thing. The Steeler running back wanted long-term big money that he did not get, so he pouted out the season over being tagged as a franchise player for another year (giving up $14,500,000 of big money in the process). But he hasn’t come close to the walking Jerry Springer episode that is Antonio Tavaris Brown. Brimming with self-confidence and self-importance, Brown is accused of ditching his team in favor of “The Antonio.” He may have inadvertently, without awareness, converted to idiolatry the worship of one’s own personality and inordinate self-esteem. Often, a display of inordinate self-esteem is a mask for an inordinate lack thereof.  

Brown is the son of “Touchdown” Eddie Brown, a wide-receiver, who at some point was dubbed as the best player ever to suit up for the Arena Football League. That’s big shoes to tap into, I suppose. Is AB on an incessant and necessitous life quest to prove himself to TD Eddie, who reportedly was missing from “The Antonio’s” home life? When Eddie Brown split from his wife Adrianne, and she remarried, 16-year-old Antonio was asked to leave his mother’s house, for reasons unknown to me, and was homeless for several months. It appears that the man who has had to survive such a vagrant environment then, may still be stuck in survival mode now, despite having three mansions to live in. You can take a man out of his culture but it’s not so easy to take his culture out of the man, no matter his success, wealth or fame (things that may actually be an obstacle to it).

While Brown’s enviable “don’t just exist, live” outlook is profuse, so is his ego. Freud goes on to say that the ego, is the realistic part of the id that mediates between the desires of the id and the super-ego, which operates as a moral conscience...something many say Brown lacks, like perhaps his live-in girlfriend, Chelsie Kyriss, with whom he has three of five children. I only mention this because “The Antonio” had allegedly been cavorting with model Jena Fumes while allegedly living with the soon-to-be parturient Kyriss.

However, Freud’s psychoanalytical perspectives and theorems may be more than my feeble id can conquer, so let me defer to the oracles. I consulted with one, Omid Fotuhi, PhD, a social psychologist in Pittsburgh. Dr. Fotuhi specializes in applying psychological solutions to real-world problems. He had an entire headful of postulation to share with me so I’ll pare it down to a microcosm. “If you’re in a context,” reflects Dr. Fotuhi by phone, “where you perceive everyone else acting in a certain way, where there are certain interests that rule, and it’s about coming out on top, how you behave towards others is driven by that social context.”  

In my simplicity, I make that mean that Antonio Brown makes everything mean something (as we all do, all of the time) and reacts accordingly. Call me out on running the wrong pass route and I’ll react by throwing water bottles and coolers (instead of, say, taking responsibility for committing an error…and maybe seeing criticism as constructive). I wonder what Brown was reacting to when he responded by driving 100 miles per hour on a daytime McKnight Road, with its bevy of traffic lights and traffic. Or what was the stimulus that had Brown react by throwing furniture off of his 14th floor balcony in Miami? Or, what his riding a goal post with his manliness in the end zone after scoring a touchdown in Indianapolis in 2015 was all about? Was that last one his pleasure principle in motion?

“Then there is the fundamental attribution error,” explains Dr. Fotuhi, “which is a mentality of how we understand ourselves compared to the rest of the world. People act out because they have a certain emotion. And in the realm of sports, these individuals are relatively few in the population, they have a fewer number of people to compare themselves to, which means, deviating behavior from the norm, since there are fewer people to establish the norm. If you have been rewarded in your behavior of a certain way (listen up Art and Mike), and you are getting all this attention (listen up media), something inside of you doesn’t understand this (listen up “Toni”). If we do things that many people can’t do, the rules are less clear if you have been rewarded for your behavior, even if it seems unfathomable.  And this is difficult for others to digest.”  

Yikes!  I’m not sure if he was talking about “The Donald” or “The Antonio,” or both?  

“The Antonio” has grievances with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin. Brown seems to be full of bull… But Big Ben has his bull…Tomlin certainly has his, owner Art Rooney has his (we all have bull…), but one man’s bull…often doesn’t gel with another man’s bull…Imagine trying to gel the bull…of 53 players and a dozen or so coaches. It makes for bull… bouillabaisse. But when everyone’s bull… is of a commingling flavor, that’s called chemistry…and locker room and team chemistry is essential to winning championships…something the Steelers’ locker room is now substantially lacking. And coach Tomlin must take responsibility for this…please!!

With all that aside, there is something to say about those who arrive to training camp in Rolls-Royces and helicopters, as “The Antonio” has, and then displaying such (in case you weren’t there to see it) on every conceivable social media outlet. It’s the “look at me and how great I am” mentality that shows up way larger than the man himself. Just another engagement of the pleasure principle presumably.

“The Antonio’s” shenanigans continue as his id rages on, showing up on TV show after radio show, spouting some form of broken English or gibberish that I cannot decipher. When I interviewed him as a rookie and for several years after, his speech seemed to be just fine. Now he has adopted an alien language, most of it aimed at the Steelers and the media. He touts the lack of respect for himself by the Steeler organization but I can’t find any instances of his respect for others. He accuses Big Ben of entitlement, while “The Antonio” himself, who “don’t do un-guaranteed money no more,” has elevated entitlement to a bloody science.  

“The Antonio’s” pleasure principle must be exceedingly high at the moment. There appears to be urgent urges, needy needs and desires of grandeur. “I’m the best in the world,” the newly self-crowned “Mr. Big Chest” idiotishly tweets. Confidence is paramount in this industry of sports performance but when does the id and the ego run amok? It’s a fine line. “The Antonio” has crossed it and may have finally flipped his lid

(Lee Kann is a filmmaker, media producer and freelance writer for the New Pittsburgh Courier.  Contact:

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