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Antonio Brown Apologized. Oh.

The 2019 NFL season began for all intent and purpose with Antonio Brown, and, hours short of the season’s end, there is Antonio Brown. We, as they say on cheap old-folks-and-shut-ins-police-procedural-network-TV-shows, are hooked.

His latest appearance, in a sitdown with ESPN’s Josina Anderson, was a new and broader apology for all his mood swings, and was followed by quick and harsh analyses of his apology—in other words, we were reintroduced to Hell’s Ouroboros, Football Division.

Brown has spent months being described as, and this is already a telltale phrase, “out of control,” as though control is the normal and admirable state of being for us all let alone people whose job description includes “run into others with an eye toward brain-on-brain contact.” And because Brown has apologized for his behavior before, we as a nation have long ago decided how sincere he really is, which is none at all.

Yeah. Like “we” know anything.

Fortunately for you, though, this bit of internet screed isn’t about Antonio Brown, but about apologies, and frankly, public/videoable apologies in the modern media age are just weaponized suck. This nation claims that apologies matter because we demand contrition on the hoof, and judge them based mostly on production values rather than sincerity because we are lousy at judging sincerity. The longer it takes for a miscreant to apologize, the greater the likelihood that it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously and in fact was ordered by a corporate superior. Yet it remains a sucker’s game every time, and the national neuroses include taking a bended knee as proof of decency, even when it isn’t.

Actually, we’re the ones who should apologize for making apologies a form of currency in the first place. Hubris doesn’t get much more bloated than saying, “Go on, say you’re sorry … oops, not sorry enough, the Soul-O-Meter reading is low on perceived sincerity. No points.”

And we should also apologize for pretending that apologies are news. Apologies aren’t news, they’re P.R. events. They don’t get miscreants back to zero point, they’re just duty dances made to fool the penance junkies among us.

What can be said with confidence when confronted by a situation like Antonio Brown’s latest mea (minima or maxima, depending on your worldview) culpa is not, “This wasn’t good enough,” or “I totally see the purity in his heart,” but “Oh.” Just “Oh.” A flat, monotoned acknowledgement that words issued forth from the lowest hole in his head. Everything else is an assumption based only on one’s overinflated sense of someone else’s genuineness, and frankly, this is an era of pure adrenalized disingenuousness where every other sentence by a public figure on either side of the mic is a lie that sets up two more lies down the conversational road. 

In other words, apologies matter on a personal level only, and only in situations in which someone did not actually mean to cause harm before doing the harm, as in “I’m sorry I put too much ice in your vodka soda,” or “I’m sorry my dog chewed your hat to smithereens.” Although in the latter case, a proper dog owner would train the dog to apologize personally, in writing.

As for Antonio Brown, his apology and anyone else’s reaction to said apology, sorry, but I got nothing. As usual.

Ray Ratto always wants teams in the relegation zone to win.