Leave it to veteran offensive lineman Ramon Foster to put things in perspective. In the hours after the kerfuffle over Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown’s Facebook video in which he caught Head Coach Mike Tomlin referring to the New Engand Patriots as “a**holes” due to their extended preparation time for the AFC Championship game, Foster was ready for the questions.
When he was asked how he would have felt if he knew that Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick referred to the Steelers in the same manner, he snapped back, “I’d appreciate it, because everybody in this league is an a**hole, in my opinion”, saying that you have to be to play this sport. The coaches didn’t become head coaches by being nice guys”.
While the locker room video may have been a bit of a rude awakening for a certain segment of fans who have some preconceived notion about what might go on in a typical locker room and how players behave around each other in off-the-record moments, there really was nothing to get excited about.
While Tomlin talked about the perceived lack of fairness about the Patriots getting a jumpstart on their AFC Championship game preparations in large part due to the fact that the Steelers’ game was pushed back seven hours, he knows as well as anybody that it is what it is. It was a message to rally his troops and nothing more.
“That’s what happens when you’re the number one seed”, Foster said of Tomlin’s remark. “If we were the number one seed, that’d have been us. We’d have been the a**holes he’d have been talking about”. And that really is it right there, summed up succinctly by the voice of the Steelers’ locker room.
Everybody in this game who has any type of advantage over you is an a**hole, plain and simple. Everything is stacked up against you and your brothers and is unfair, and the only way to overcome the impossible odds is to rally around each other and rise up to meet the challenge that nobody thinks you can match.
It doesn’t matter if it’s actually true or not, or, even if it is actually true, that it’s unfair. It’s called motivation, and it’s part of the coach’s job to provide his players with a mental edge. The Steelers have a shorter week to prepare, so they have to go even harder than their opponents. Those bastards.
When Tomlin—and Foster—warned his teammates to “stay off of social media”, they were talking about inciting their opponents, the way that players have gone back and forth with members of the Bengals in the past.
The video that Brown posted was simply a typical scene of a locker room following an emotional playoff win. There was nothing that amounted to incitement, just athletes and coaches being themselves.