A.J. Brown can laugh at himself, but the Eagles WR is not joking about being open

The Athletic


To understand A.J. Brown’s personality as a wide receiver, you first must understand his taste in comedy.

Malik Joe is an Eagles fan from North Philadelphia who creates comedic content on the internet that could go viral. Earlier this season, he made a mock video of the Eagles’ huddle with Brown repeating, “I’m open!” He made different iterations of this Brown refrain, including Brown in a mock news conference answering every question with, “I’m open,” regardless of the topic.

Brown wasn’t offended. He laughed, shared the videos and has since followed Joe on Instagram.

“It’s a comedian here in Philly, he’s always making videos. He made a video and it was fourth-and-20, and I was like, ‘I’m open! I’m open!’” Brown said of Joe. “He always does a really good job with that. The guys love that. Hope he keeps it going!”

“The background of the video,” Joe said, “came from him actually being open, being honest.”

Yes, Brown always thinks he’s open. Just look above his locker, where an “Always Open” sign hangs. Look at his Instagram bio — @1k_alwaysopen. He wears a shirt that reads “Un-guard-able.” Brown is not shy about this belief.

There was a minor hullabaloo earlier this week when television cameras caught Brown appearing dejected in the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ blowout win over the New York Giants in the NFC divisional round. Coach Nick Sirianni even consoled Brown on the bench. Brown said this week that “it was nothing serious” and “nothing to be worried about,” and Sirianni chalked it up as a confident player who wants the ball.

The footage sparked debate and armchair psychology. If that’s the chosen exercise, then it’s important to understand the mind of a top wide receiver in order to engage.

“If you throw the ball to me 100 times,” Brown explained, “I’m going to want it 101 times.”

Brown is not shy about this. Look above his locker! There’s a reason why Brown laughs at Joe’s videos. It’s the way he thinks — and it’s part of what’s made him one of the NFL’s best wide receivers.

“Me, personally, I just feel like I can change the game at any moment,” Brown said. “Getting the ball often keeps you going, keeps you in a rhythm. Definitely puts you in the zone. You’re locked in. Of course I want the ball.”

Brown disputed the suggestion that a top wide receiver could come with “diva” tendencies. He insisted that he would not cause a fuss with teammates or coaches.

“I’m never the receiver to go on a sideline or try to cause problems on the sideline, I’m not the guy,” Brown said. “I think that’s what you’ve been describing, the ‘diva,’ or whatever the case may be. I’m not that person. I’m the guy who talks to the quarterback, talks to the OC and does it that way. I’m not a guy who’s going to cause commotion on the sidelines.”

(It’s worth pointing out a sentiment shared by Alshon Jeffery in 2017 when the “no diva” topic came up during the Super Bowl run. Jeffery suggested that he was sure the Eagles had those types of players, but they wouldn’t show it when the team was winning. Success is a powerful deodorant.)



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Brown finished with 88 catches for 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns in the regular season — all career highs — while breaking Mike Quick’s single-season franchise record for receiving yards. The Eagles traded a first- and third-round pick in April of last year to acquire Brown, and they gave him a four-year, $100 million contract to make him the highest-paid player on the team. He’s in Philadelphia to “change the game,” to borrow the phrase used by Brown and Sirianni.

“That’s what you want from your receivers, to want to have the football,” Sirianni said. “Part of the reason why receivers are good is because they want and crave the football. They want the ball to change the game. But make no mistake about it, he was thrilled that we won the football game. Always wants to be involved, obviously, in the plan. He blocked his butt off, and you could see how excited he was when he sprang that block for DeVonta’s (Smith) touchdown. But, obviously, he was really excited and celebrated in the locker room with all of us after the win.”

It’s correct Brown had a key block on Smith’s touchdown. Brown was proud of it, although teams don’t pay receivers $25 million per year because they’re good blockers. Brown had three catches for 22 yards against the Giants; it was his second-lowest yardage output of the season and tied for his second-fewest receptions. The Eagles also built a 28-0 halftime lead and attempted only seven passes in the second half (and 24 in the game). Last Saturday was not going to require prolific production from the team’s receivers.

This Sunday might be different. The San Francisco 49ers have the NFL’s best defense, but their run defense is ranked higher than their pass defense. Based on yards allowed, the 49ers rank No. 20 against the pass and No. 2 against the run. The Eagles will need to use their passing game to advance to the Super Bowl, and Brown is a key part of the plan.

Brown, who had an unspecified injury late in Saturday’s game, said he’s “good to go” and hasn’t been on the injury report for an ailment this week.

The 49ers know Brown well. He played against them with the Titans in December 2021 and finished with a career-high 11 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. Brown noted that the personnel has changed for San Francisco, but he made plays in that game — and he’ll need to do the same this weekend.

Brown embraces the big stage. His “perfect” performance in college came in his only game in his hometown of Starkville, Miss. His NFL debut came on the same day as Odell Beckham Jr.’s first game in Cleveland — and Brown was the leading receiver. His anticipated Eagles opener included 10 receptions for 155 yards. When he faced the team that traded him away, he caught two touchdowns and gave the Titans a “whooping.”

Brown played in the AFC Championship Game as a rookie (he caught three receptions for 51 yards) when Tennessee lost in Kansas City, his first taste of a deep postseason run.

“Definitely know what the atmosphere is like, but this time it’s on my side, being home,” Brown said. “It still comes down to making plays, making every drive count.”

And he wants to be the one making those plays. If Jalen Hurts throws him 10 passes, Brown will want 11.

“I feel like whatever I do is going to work; it may not work, but I feel like it’s going to work,” Brown said. “And I really believe in myself and I feel like I can take over the game whenever I get the opportunity. Of course I want the ball, I crave the ball. That’s as much as I can sum it up.”

Brown wasn’t joking — but he knows how to take a joke.

Just watch his favorite video Joe made.

Reporter: On that third-and-17, how can you explain your reaction to that non-conversion?

Brown: I was open.

Reporter. You guys were on defense.

Brown: I was open …

Reporter: When Jake Elliott went to kick that 60-yarder, were you nervous at all?

Brown: I was open. I was open.

Around the holidays, Joe shared a meme that read, “Everybody’s job closed during the holidays.” Underneath, it read, “My job” — with a photo of Brown’s face.

“Open like clock work,” Brown commented. “Tell a friend to tell a friend.”

Scroll through Joe’s content and it’s clear the bit is not getting old. In fact, Joe even went to hand-deliver a present to Brown before the Eagles’ Week 18 game.

Joe arrived at the stadium during pregame warmups and walked to the bottom row behind the end zone with a gift-wrapped package that was passed to Brown.

Brown strolled toward the end zone seats, opened the box and looked inside.

It was another sign that read, “OPEN.” Brown laughed as if he’d sat through a comedy show. There’s often truth in every joke.

(Photo: Rich Graessle / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


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