A.J Brown is a perfect example of why we should never judge a book by its cover

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Eagles A.J Brown
PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 04: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) celebrates a touchdown during the game between the Tennessee Titans and the Philadelphia Eagles on December 4, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Some athletes who come to Philadelphia have found it to be a difficult transition, whereas others have fit like a glove from day one. AJ Brown was the latter. He was beloved more than most any athlete in recent history and he earned the adoration by proving how dedicated he was from day one. 

Bird Watching

“I want them to know I’m a hard worker, I’m a team guy, not a me guy” Brown stated in his introductory press conference.

Some have recently started to question his dedication to the team and now see him as more of a “me” guy.

I would warn anyone that trying to read what someone is thinking by watching their body language on the sideline is like looking at someone at a funeral and assuming that just because they aren’t crying, they aren’t sad. That is just NOT how you know what someone feels in their heart. It is dangerous to make assumptions, especially towards someone who has a track record of their actions speaking for them more than any reaction he may have on the sideline.

AJ Brown has earned the right to not be judged by the “bird watchers” who have opinions based without merit. He has a history of putting in the work and being a team player. He has a history of putting others before himself, and being frustrated with the current leadership doesn’t change that.

Path to the NFL:

Brown attended Starkville High School in Mississippi, where he played both baseball and football. His work ethic was legendary, and it started at a very young age. AJ credits his family with the way he was raised for developing his discipline.

“From my parents, both parents, my mom, and my dad. They work extremely hard”

His hard work and relentless attention to detail were noticed at every level of play including High School where he drew the attention of both in-state colleges, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.

Mississippi State fans bemoaned AJ’s choice of playing at Ole Miss, which is 2 hours away, rather than playing for his hometown college, but AJ had his reasons.

“It was kinda too close (to home) and the coach didn’t really recruit me. He just expected I was going to come.” (Saturday Down South)

While Mississippi St. may have expected him to sign, other programs were not as confident and tried to buy his services.

“The night before signing day, I got a knock on the door, bag full of money in the front. Swear to God. They kinda tried to leave and we like, ‘Nah, we good, bro. We don’t need this.’ I swear.”

Ole Miss and their fans were happy he chose them and they were rewarded with elite wide receiver plays.

He ended his collegiate career after his junior year with 189 receptions for 2,984 yards and 19 TDS.

His resume’ and reputation paved the way for him to be a highly coveted player for NFL teams in need of a receiver. 

A.J Brown’s tenure with the Titans:

AJ Brown was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the second round of the 2019 draft with the 51st overall pick.

AJ immediately established himself as the Titans’ top receiving playmaker. His statistics during his first three seasons in the NFL mirrored that of his college stats but with even more touchdowns.

Brown reeled in 185 receptions for 2,995 yards (an impressive 16.2 yards per catch average) and 24 touchdowns.

Despite being very productive and a fan favorite in Tennessee, his time there was coming to an end due to an impasse in contract negotiations.

Brown stated“I just wanted my work to be appreciated”

Once again, he felt that the time and effort he put into the organization and the people around him weren’t being recognized in his professional life.

He was also feeling hopeless in his personal life.

Mental Health:

From an outsider looking in, things seemed to be going great. AJ Brown is one of the best young receivers in the game, makes lots of money, and is well-liked, but inside, the dominant wideout was missing something and hurting. The pain was becoming more than he could bear. 

In November 2020, Brown stated that he thought about taking his own life.

“I had no more hope for better days and everything was just going wrong for me,”

On November 12, 2021, AJ went public regarding his thoughts of taking his own life in a very open TikTok post that he shared with the world. It was on the first anniversary of his decision to choose life.

Eagles nfl week 7 odds aj brown
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown runs a route against the New York Giants during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

“I just wanted to put out a positive message that I’m still here. I’m still growing. I’m still learning. I’m blessed. I’ve got a lot of things to be grateful for and someone was there for me. So reach out to your loved ones and ask them how they’re doing and listen to them, you know, because it’s important.”

It took courage and bravery to come out, but AJ knew the impact and importance of sharing his story was more valuable than any scrutiny he would endure.

“Be there for someone because someone was there for me. God told him all the right things to say to me that night. Take depression seriously. Take how you feel and how you handle situations seriously. Life happens to all of us but you’re not too tough to talk to someone and get things off your chest. Life is a beautiful thing and everyone should be able to live it to the fullest.”

AJ was ready to move forward with football, and to a new city.

Philadelphia Eagles:

Once it became known in league circles that AJ Brown would be available via trade, Eagles GM Howie Roseman was salivating for a chance to acquire him.

Draft night 2022, Howie and the Eagles finally landed their guy.

Bills vs Eagles a.j brown
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) celebrating his touchdown with teammate wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) during the first half of an NFL football game against Washington Commanders, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Eagles traded one of their 2022 first-round picks (number 18)and one of their two third-round picks (number 101) to the Tennessee Titans during the 2022 NFL draft, for A.J. Brown. AJ then immediately signed an extension with the Eagles that added 4 years and 100 million dollars with 57 million guaranteed.

The Eagles’ general manager, Howie Roseman, described the team’s desire to acquire Brown.

“Was it a priority to get a wide receiver? It was a priority to get the right players. This for us was the right player, this was the right fit. I can’t tell you we were going to definitely draft a receiver in the first round. We had some other players that we were looking at here. I think we felt like this particular player, this particular person, the fit was really good for what we had and what we were looking for.”

Brown shared in the Eagles’ excitement. 

“You know what, after I got traded I placed myself on the Eagles on Madden, and I started playing as myself and I just started visualizing, and you know I’m really excited.”

He also was going to a team that is known for being a safe place for players facing mental health issues, and as a bonus, he had someone he knew who cared about him already on the team, Jalen Hurts.

“I get to play with my best friend. It’s going to be real special”

The Future:

So far, it has been really special. They have played in the Super Bowl together, they have shared in breaking team records, and AJ Brown is re-writing the record books in just 2 short years as a Philadelphia Eagle. 

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) celebrating his team’s touchdown to take the lead against the Washington Commanders during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

It’s almost been perfect, but he and the team know there is a lot of work and football left if they want to be the team that hoists a Lombardi trophy in February.

AJ has a history of wanting to be appreciated, not because he is a Prima Donna wide receiver, but because he has put in the work and the effort to earn it. He deserves to be held accountable, but not for something that fans and or reporters think is negative body language that can be so easily misinterpreted. Judge his body of work and evaluate the way he has treated others. 

His frustration with his usage, the coaches, or whatever else he is choosing not to speak on is not something for the media or the fans to be included in. He is still giving 100%, and he is still being a leader for his teammates.

A.J. is unapologetically staying true to who he is, and he wants what everyone wants. The best for himself and YOU!

“You need to look out for one another, I know we play this beautiful game, but you know, life is beautiful.”

Indeed it is.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at http://988lifeline.org for 24/7 access to a trained counselor. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741741. For more information about ongoing support and mental health resources, contact HelpLine at the National Alliance on Mental Illness by calling 1–800–950-NAMI (6264) or emailing [email protected].

As always thank you for reading

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Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire