AJ Brown cut through the crowd of reporters gathered around his locker stall at the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday afternoon and pushed his chair out of the way.
“Gun Shot!” Brown said. “Okay, let me take it easy.”
Then he really broke his silence.
But before doing so, Brown apologized in a team setting Wednesday morning.
“I apologized to my colleagues today because they should not have been answering questions on my behalf,” Brown said. “I’m a man. I can speak for myself.”
The Eagles’ 26-year-old star receiver had declined interview requests since Christmas Day, after the Giants game. In a nearly 13-minute interview Wednesday, Brown explained his silence, his frustration over Sunday’s fourth-quarter loss, why he apologized to his teammates and his relationship with Nick Sirianni, among other things.
“Honestly, I didn’t talk to the media after the game because I didn’t want to be negative,” Brown said. “I had already got into that mindset where we were going through tough times and so I, personally, am that person who knows I just have to get back to work. I can’t do anything about it. Like I said after the (Giants) game, how I grew up, if I didn’t have something nice to say, I wouldn’t say anything at all.
“I am not going to add negative to negative so that you guys can write more negative things. You guys have also watched the game so you guys already know. That’s why I was saying this, I can’t say anything more than that. I’m not trying to make it worse than it is. And then on top of that, whatever I do, if I say anything, if I do anything, I’m classified as a monster. sincerely. And it’s honestly the opposite.”
After a failed third-and-19 screen attempt in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 35-31 loss to the Cardinals, Brown was captured by FOX cameras shaking his head in frustration.
Without hearing from Brown himself, there were plenty of theories about that frustration, many of which centered on the idea that he was unhappy with the play calls or the lack of goals he saw in that series and late in the game. Brown offered a different explanation Wednesday, saying he was upset because DeVonta Smith twisted his ankle during the game. Brown said he knows some people won’t buy that explanation but he also said he doesn’t care.
“You saw my frustration on the field,” Brown said. “It wasn’t about the play call, it wasn’t about any of that. It was about beating my boy. We’re going to need it, I’m going to need Smitty to move forward. But that was it.”
Brown doesn’t understand why his frustrations come out. He said that every player in the locker room is disappointed. The Eagles (11-5) have lost four of their last five games and go from potentially landing the No. 1 seed to starting their playoff run on the road as a wild-card team.
This isn’t the first time Brown has felt disrespected because of the way he expressed his emotions.
“Just because I’m shaking my head? Am I showing emotion?” Brown said. “You could see that everyone in the stadium had bad body language. They are disappointed. And so I wanted to make that clear because it’s not about me. We are all disappointed. I wanted to clean it up.”
And Brown also wanted to dispel any nonsense about himself and head coach Nick Sirianni. Brown said Wednesday that he and the head coach have a strong relationship.
Sirianni has defended Brown publicly and privately in recent weeks as a player and as a teammate.
“People say I’m partial to Nick. “I’m not mad at Nick,” Brown said. “I’m not mad at anybody. We have very good relations. I have a lot of respect for Nick because he takes care of us whenever it’s our turn.
Brown also gave an example. According to Brown, Sirianni tried to save his players by calling a play late in the Seattle game because the Eagles were trying to commit a defensive pass interference. Brown said that was not the case and that the Eagles’ receivers worked independently on the play. “He really made himself look like a fool to us,” Brown said.
Brown does not like being labeled a diva. He admitted Wednesday – as he did last season – that he has always wanted football. He said that if he gets it 105 times, he would like it 106 times.
But he also said he doesn’t demand football during games, even jokingly admitting that Smith is a squeaky wheel when it comes to things but no one noticed.
“I don’t say anything during the game. I don’t ask for the ball,” Brown said. “But if a wide receiver says anything, oh, he’s classified as a diva and he wants the ball. Maybe I’m holding my teammates accountable. Like we have difficult conversations. But if a quarterback does it, no one says anything. But if a receiver says anything it’s the end of the world. It is what it is and I can’t control it. I know who I am and I try to push my teammates and I’m not going to change who I am and that’s it.
One thing Brown didn’t deny Wednesday was that he was disappointed.
Of course he is.
“Yeah, because I want to win. I want to win,’” Brown said. “And I’m trying to do everything in my power to win. I wake up before the sun rises, go home hours after the sun sets. this is our life. We dedicate our entire life to this. But this is serious for us. It comes with frustration.”
And sometimes, you just have to let it out.
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