Many general managers dread the offseason for myriad different reasons. One of the biggest reasons for doing so are the late night phone calls informing you that one of your players has been arrested or gotten into some kind of trouble.
The Pittsburgh Steelers received just such a call after cornerback Antwon Blake was reportedly arrested early Sunday morning for public intoxication in Oceanside, CA. the Oceanside Police Department allowed him to sober up before releasing him.
In other words, it was a pretty minor offense, and he’ll likely receive little more than a slap on the wrist and be on his way, if the circumstances of the case are as simple as they appear to be—merely being drunk in public. I strongly suspect that the majority of those reading this article have been drunk in public before.
It doesn’t appear likely that Blake should be subject to any kind of formal disciplinary action as it pertains to the personal conduct policy of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and I don’t suspect that the Steelers would cut ties with him over such an incident, so this should be a non-story that quickly passes with the next news cycle. Cornerback Bryan McCann was arrested for public intoxication in March of 2011 and was never disciplined for it.
Of course, the team does reserve the right of pulling their restricted free agent tender offered to him, worth in excess of $1.5 million, that he has yet to sign. And once he does sign it, the Steelers could release him at any point before the season and would incur no dead money charge.
But the fact that they tendered him in the first place is as strong an indication as is needed to demonstrate the value that they place on the fourth-year cornerback, who is entering his third season with the team, and his second as a significant contributor on defense.
Not only is Blake a core special teams player—perhaps even their best special teams player—he took on an increasingly significant role on defense as the season progressed, and he finished with one interception and a forced fumble, the latter of which helped clinch the division, in his limited playing time.
With Ike Taylor not returning and Brice McCain signing elsewhere—and Cortez Allen currently a mystery—Blake likely figures to be in the starting lineup right now were the Steelers to take the field today. The coaching staff appears to believe that he can take on a bigger role based on what he showed last season.
Stepping outside after a couple of beers too many is not likely to diminish that. At least, I would consider it surprising if the Steelers took action against him, barring further details being released. Unless we hear otherwise, it sounds like merely a minor youthful indiscretion that would not be uncommon for a 25-year-old man, regardless of whether or not he was a professional athlete.
While it may be true that he represents the Steelers and the Steelers brand as an employee of the organization even when he is out in public, I certainly don’t think this will become an issue.
This was not Alameda Ta’amu, by any stretch of the imagination. It wasn’t even Mike Adams, in my opinion. He’ll learn from this and move on, I suspect, and continue to be an asset to the organization, although he may have a bit more to prove now in order to secure a more long-term contract after this incident.