Dunlap: Burfict Hit Changed Antonio Brown's Life

AB's downward spiral began after a barbaric hit from Vontaze Burfict

Zach Gelb
January 24, 2020 - 9:58 am

In November 2016, Colin Dunlap’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer, and one day, Antonio Brown asked Dunlap – Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan host – what that experience was like. 

What was the scene at the children’s hospital? How were the kids doing? What did they need?

AB just wanted to help. So he did.

“The guy went down and scratched a $100,000 check – $100,000,” Dunlap said on The Zach Gelb Show. “Now, it doesn’t matter how much you make. That’s a lot of money. I think of the conversation I had with him, and I’m not trying to gain sympathy, but I think of that conversation and just how regular it was – and there’s no way in the world he’s the same dude right now. He’s just not. He had to fight off endorsers before; he can’t even get an agent now.”

Brown’s downward spiral continued Thursday night, as he turned himself in to a Broward County jail in response to an arrest warrant. Brown is facing charges of felony burglary with battery, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, and criminal mischief. Even worse, this is merely the latest incident in a series of legal issues in recent years.

What happened to Brown?

“It started to be increasingly bizarre and odd, and you can draw a definitive timeline,” Dunlap said. “I’m a firm believer that the Burfict hit [in January 2016] changed this man’s life. He started to be someone who was afraid everyone was out to get him, he never smiled after that all that much – he became somebody different. He used to be innocently narcissistic, much like a lot of receivers in the NFL, but he didn’t have this dark side to him. And for me, every single incident, it all happened after the Burfict hit.”

Brown, a former sixth-round pick, became the best wide receiver in football. He was a fan favorite, and his smile was electric. It was a great underdog story.

No more.

“I think it’s a CTE story,” Dunlap said. “He may be a knucklehead to start with, but it’s definitely exacerbated by playing football. If you can’t see the trajectory that took a sharp spike right after the Burfict hit – and he has never recovered since then. That’s just all fact, the timeline: the everybody’s out to get me, the dark, never smiling. The guy used to smile all the time. He almost had a Sammy Davis Jr. quotient to him. He may have not known how to answer a question or he may have not known the right answer, you know what he would do? He would smile, and everybody would just crack up. He just smiled, and it took care of everything. That was in ’13 and ’14 and ’15. When’s the last time you’ve seen AB happy? When’s he smiled? It’s been two or three years. I think that the launching point for me is that AFC Wild Card game. I think it’s that, and I think his head is messed up from football.”