Yesterday was the first opportunity that the media was able to subject Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown to questioning this offseason, ever since it was rumored back before the draft that there was more to his absence during voluntary workouts than just wanting to spend more time with his newborn, which is, of course, a more than valid excuse—to the point where even using the term ‘excuse’ verges on insulting.
Naturally, though, Brown was asked early and often about those April rumors, in which it was told that he was mulling over the possibilities that he could pursue in his quest for a new contract, including skipping the very OTAs at which he fielded questions yesterday.
For his part, while he denied any knowledge of where those rumors might have come from, he said that there was never a consideration of skipping OTAs. He then went on to wax poetic about how great he has it and, thus, why it would have never made sense for the rumors to be true. He even mentioned that he’s got enough money and that it’s not an issue.
Not that that necessarily makes it true that there was never anything material about those early reports.
That is what Ed Bouchette maintained yesterday during his chat when he was asked if he found Brown’s ‘holdout’ back in April confusing. In response to that question, Bouchette said point blank that “those who say he never planned it or that it was not an issue are wrong”. He went on to say that “it was an issue right up until the time Antonio Brown decided not to make it one”.
This is the hypothesis that I had been working with all along, to be quite frank, and while Bouchette’s comments do not confirm that belief, it does provide some more credence to the idea that there was more to those rumors than he would want known.
And that’s something that I’m perfectly fine with. Back when he did not report for the voluntary workout, I already wrote about a potential spring workout and supported his right to do so if that were his choice. I wouldn’t have a problem if he wanted to make it publicly known that he believed he had soundly outplayed his contract.
But I also have no problem with his desire to distance himself from both the rumor and from the perception that he’s less than thrilled about his contract situation, even if there is a degree of truth to it.
Of course this all rests on the assumption that what I’ve written above is true, but I have no problem with Brown’s desire to save face with the public. He is passionate about being able to contribute positively to those who support him, and has been open with his affection and generous with his time for Steeler Nation, to be sure. It’s very much a large part of what drives him.