James Lofton understands what it takes to be a top notch wide receiver in the National Football League.
He was just that for 16 seasons in the NFL, his exceptional play earning him a rightful spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Lofton, who also served as a receivers coach in the league, is in his eighth year as an analyst for Westwood One's radio coverage of Sunday Night Football.
And in doing that has had a chance to watch one of the receivers he thinks is among the best in the game right now, Antonio Brown. Lofton likes the attitude and work ethic Brown brings, and feels that helps him to be as competitive as he is.
"A year ago the Steelers played in the Hall of Fame game," recalled Lofton. "Antonio wasn't playing in the game, but I was broadcasting for Westwood One. During every timeout, every commercial break, Antonio Brown would sprint from the 40-yard line to the back of the end zone and back to the 40-yard line. I thought he isn't playing so maybe he will just do it the first quarter. He did it the first quarter, then he did it the second quarter, he did it the third quarter, he did it the fourth quarter.
"You always hear about guys that outwork other people. He really does work a little harder than everybody else. You notice it when he is playing. He is as fast in the fourth quarter as he is in the first quarter. You don't normally see that happen. His conditioning level is high, a lot higher than a lot of other guys in the National Football League."
Brown, who still does the in-game sprints when he isn't playing, said he does it because he always wants to be prepared. "I always want to prepare even though I am not out there getting the reps," said Brown. "I always want my body to be ready to go when it's time to go. In a couple of weeks I am going to take all of the reps so I want to continue to keep my body ready, in condition even when I am not playing. I need to continue to keep my wind up and energy up. I want to be ready when it's time to go."
Lofton doesn't think being ready is a problem for Brown.
"When I was an engineering student I learned potential is the ability to do work," said Lofton. "As you watch Antonio Brown, he does a lot of work so he has a lot of potential. It's important for Antonio to set the example, but it's also important for him to push himself as well. He can't be content with the last couple of years.
"I remember doing a Sunday night game in Pittsburgh and I described him as a video game. You hit that power button and there is extra speed. He works at his craft and he works relentlessly. He is a special individual and he is maximizing his talent so far."