Antonio Brown and the Peter Principle

There’s a thing about Albany-based sports leagues and teams. If you do right by the fans, if you treat your players and your organization with respect, if you pay your bills, and at least put something competitive on the field or on the diamond or on the pitch, this area will support you.

But if you act like a clown, if you become the biggest news story in the area for your antics rather than for your product, you’ll get derided and crucified in the press.

I’ve seen it before. There used to be a hockey team in Albany – not the River Rats or the Devils, mind you, but the Albany Choppers of the International Hockey League. They were a trainwreck on ice, so much so that you could compare it to the Slap Shot film and think that Slap Shot was not realistic enough.

That being said … the stories I’m hearing about former NFL superstar Antonio Brown’s ownership of the local arena football squad, the Albany Empire, are nothing short of wild. Every day a new story, every day a new WTF moment. Firing coaches. Locking players out of hotel rooms. Hell, instead of appearing on Sports Illustrated or ESPN, Antonio Brown’s got the Empire on places like TMZ and Deadspin.

Look, I’m not going to lie. I used to enjoy Antonio Brown when he was a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I really did.

But that being said … Antonio Brown wore out his welcome with the Steelers. And then he wore out his welcome with the Raiders. And with the Patriots. And now, as a team owner of the Albany Empire, he’s quickly wearing out his welcome here.

What we honestly have here is an example of the Peter Principle.

I shall explain.

In 1969, Laurence Peter wrote a satirical exercise in business management, entitled The Peter Principle. He postulated that in a hierarchy, an individual will rise to the level of his or her incompetence. A qualified person, based on his or her ability to complete a job, will get promoted to a position to which he or she is totally unqualified – and that person will end up staying in that spot.

The simplest way to see this is as such. A very good kindergarten teacher might get promoted to teaching high school, for which that person is not qualified. Or a decent high school teacher might get promoted to principal, for which that person doesn’t have the skills. A reasonably intelligent principal might fail as a superintendent. A dedicated mayor might make a miserable governor. A semi-adequate real estate magnate might be a failure as President.

Yes, Antonio Brown was an electrifying wide receiver in his day. But that doesn’t mean he’s qualified to run a sports team. Obviously at this point in time, he should just sell his interests, thank everyone for the opportunity, and go off to whatever new adventure he chooses.

Because the Albany Empire, who won two league championships in their short history – are now barely a punchline. A franchise that drew decent crowds to the MVP Arena now draw empty chairs – heck, whole empty sections.

Look, I wish I could own a sports team. I wish I had that kind of crust to drop on a team. But I know my limits. I know that owning a professional sports team, from the NFL down to the local Twilight League semi-professional baseball squad, takes a ton of time and sweat equity. You can’t just show up on Game Night and sit in the front row and watch everything unfold. It takes a big commitment. You work 35 hours a day, 12 days a week, 17 months out of the year. And you still can’t get it all done in time.

And in this case, Antonio Brown just needs to understand – he had a great run in the NFL. But as a sports team owner, he’s basically the proven theory of the Peter Principle.

Heck, at this point in time, I expect Antonio Brown to sign some new players to the Empire. I’ve heard that quarterback Dunning and wide receiver Krueger are possible choices.

Yeah, you saw what I did there. 😀