Back when the whole Facebook Live video controversy was still fresh, there was certainly an awful lot of nonsense talk floating around about seemingly irreparable damage that wide receiver Antonio Brown had done to his relationship with the Pittsburgh Steelers, one that never seemed to be founded on anything particularly substantial beyond simply wishing that it hadn’t happened.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin thoroughly scolded him in public, to be sure. I don’t recall all the appropriate adjectives that he used to describe the selfishness of Brown’s actions, but he made his, and the organization’s, displeasure clear. President Art Rooney II also weighed in on Brown’s minor distractions, but this was all a far cry from the talk of him being traded.
And that theory was shot out of the water when the Steelers gave the All-Pro a four-year extension worth $68 million, making him comfortably the high-paid wide receiver in the league. A player who is that big of a problem doesn’t get top of the market money, at least not from a reasonable organization.
Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still fences to mend, and I think that the recent comments from former Steelers great Joe Greene reflect that. To be clear, Greene is and has always been more than just a player. He is part of the identity of the team, and was also on the coaching staff and in the front office, and still assists the team from time to time.
Greene is in some ways the voice of an older generation, but certainly not one that is without relevance in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have found a great deal of success in building off of their traditions of the past, starting with the culture that Chuck Noll instilled in the team and which Greene helped to enforce, so his take on Brown’s conduct is an important reference point.
“When you put yourself above all of that”, Greene said, “then the selfishness comes into place, then you get individual acts like the ones then that I personally think is a detriment to the entire organization and what we’re trying to do in Pittsburgh”.
Those are certainly some strong words from him about a current star player, but I think they reflect the fact that Brown still has some work to do in terms of gaining back some of the trust that he may have lost with his decision-making.
According to Jeremy Fowler, rumor has it that the star wide receiver “has intensified his offseason workout routine more than ever, eager to validate that contract and pay back the Steelers”.
The front office kept their word in renegotiating his contract and making it an early priority. They even forwarded him money in advance. Brown knows that the team has done right by him, and that he has the ensure that he is still entitled to their good graces.