A.J. Brown was one of the NFL’s best receivers in 2020. Yet he was far from his best.
The Tennessee Titans’ top pass catcher for the second straight season went on Instagram on Tuesday afternoon and revealed that he had surgery on both knees.
He streamed the live video from a hospital bed shortly after the procedure and even complained to a nurse that a drink irritated his throat. She explained that it was due to the ventilator that was employed while he was under anesthesia.
“But yeah, look, I was sore all year,” Brown said. “Nobody knew. They told me I was done for the year in Week 2. I played all year. I ended up making the Pro Bowl. Didn’t know how I was going to do it. I did it.”
A subsequent post from Brown's Twitter account, which referred to him in the third person, classified the work as "small procedures."
The 2019 second-round draft pick out of Ole Miss led the Titans with 70 receptions for 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns despite the fact that he missed two games. He was tied for fifth in the league in receiving touchdowns and was 16th in receiving yards. Among the 18 players who had at least 1,000 receiving yards in 2020, Brown’s 70 receptions were tied for the second fewest.
A knee injury sidelined Brown for victories over Jacksonville and Minnesota in Weeks 2 and 3, and he was on the injury report every week thereafter throughout the season with knee, ankle and hip issues.
"He would do walk-thrus in a wheel chair," linebacker Will Compton playfully wrote on Twitter in response to Brown's revelation. "His knees were so bad - at one point they talked about pulling the plug. But death or surgery was never an option for (Brown).
"Thru guided mediation (and) prayer he was able to somehow play on Sundays. One of the toughest men I know."
He became the 11th NFL player to reach 1,000 yards in receiving each of his first two seasons in the league and the fifth since 1970 with at least 2,000 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns in his first two seasons. As a rookie, he led Tennessee with 52 receptions, 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns.
Brown was one of three Titans named to the Pro Bowl, a first for him in his career and scored at least one touchdown in 10 of the 14 games he played.
“This is no talk, bro,” he said. “Like real talk—I’m going to be the best receiver in the NFL.”
If he can stay healthy, he might be right.