Chances are, on his first catch tomorrow, Antonio Brown will achieve something that is not unique to himself, but that is uncharted territory when it comes to everybody else in Pittsburgh Steelers history—which one serves to make it all that more remarkable.
The sixth-year receiver enters the game with 1397 receiving yards and needs just two more receiving yards to pass Yancey Thigpen’s club record that he set in 1997 when he posted 1398 yards. That record stood for 15 years until Brown broke it in 2013, in fact storming past it, as he finished that season with 1499 receiving yards.
That he, he seemingly put the record out of reach for the foreseeable future for those who come next in line in franchise history, but it turned out that Brown himself would be next in line. In 2014, he not only shattered Thigpen’s record from 1997 for a second consecutive season, he shattered his own record that he set just a year earlier, posting an astounding 1698 yards on the season, becoming the first wide receiver in team history to average over 100 yards per game.
Amazingly, in spite of all of the obstacles, it looks like the All-Pro is on pace to finish out the season breaking his own record for the second straight year, setting a new franchise record for the third consecutive season.
Averaging a bit over 107 yards per game, Brown is on pace to reach 1719 yards by the end of the year. He needs to average just a hair over 100 yards per game through this final three-game stretch in order to break his own record from last season.
But consider what that even means. We are no longer talking about Brown’s accomplishments with respect to what he has done relative to the great wide receivers in franchise history. There is no longer any valid comparison to anyone but himself, such are the heights of excellence that he has reached.
With his third consecutive season of 100 receptions, plus a punt return for a touchdown, he became just the third receiver in league history to accomplish such a feat. By season’s end, he should be well clear of 110 receptions, which would make him just the second wide receiver ever with three such seasons in succession.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to be impressed by Brown’s accomplishments simply due to the frequency with which he achieves them. But it should not be that surprising, since he has been making history since he entered the league.
Brown is among the group of players who have scored a touchdown on their first ever professional touch, returning a kickoff on a gadget play in the second game of his rookie year. In his second season, he became the first player in NFL history to record 1000 receiving yards and 1000 return yards in the same season. What is exceptional for others has become business as usual.