I wrote early this morning that there was a belief, per Bob Labriola from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ website, that Martavis Bryant may be ready to return for the start of OTAs. As we saw earlier today, that proved to be true, as he was by all reports a full participant in drills, even running with the first-team offense over Sammie Coates.
He even went through the gauntlet, as expected, fielding a litany of questions from the gathered reporters. But I don’t want to talk about the things that he had to say. Not just yet. I just want to talk about the fact that he is back, and what that means to the team, and more importantly, what it means—at least I think—to him.
I don’t doubt that there were times over the course of the past 14 or 15 months during his suspension that were difficult for him to deal with. For somebody who loves the game of football—even if he didn’t love to practice and train, before now—to have that taken away for an entire year would have to be hard to handle.
While I doubt that he will actually see this, though, I think it’s worth reminding that what he lost was a year out of football, and by no means a year out of his life. If anything, the time away from the game may have even proven to be beneficial for him on and off the field.
During Bryant’s suspension, he was given no choice but to take stock of his life, where he was, and where he wanted to be. And he realized that he was in jeopardy of cutting off the path that leads to his desired destination. Everybody can see the effort that he has put in to getting his life right.
He told reporters that he has not smoked in over a year, and that it really wasn’t all that difficult. He told reporters that he considers himself a family man now, and that he is going right home from practice to see the smile on his seven-week-old son’s face. He said that he is happier now.
These are all wonderful things to hear, for sure, from a talented young man who has had his issues in staying the course, and perhaps who even has had difficulty identifying who is truly being supportive of him and who is taking advantage of him.
On the field, Bryant appears to be as fast as ever, stronger than ever, and certainly more dedicated to the game than he ever has been before. That will be a great boon for the Steelers’ offensive success, but to regain him in the locker room with a healthier mindset may be even more rewarding.
Today was the first step in his journey back to being a contributing member of his football family, and one that seems now almost assured to have a happy ending. That’s not something that we could have said even recently.