The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are in a critical portion of the offseason in which the preseason takes center stage, where some of the biggest and most important questions get answered, especially in terms of personnel.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Does Antonio Brown need anything more than a talking to?
This isn’t ordinarily how I go about these posts, but I’m starting this one by providing my own answer: No. Or at least, probably not. It’s impossible for any of us on the outside to actually know for sure. But I really don’t think there’s anything more going on than an intertwining of separate frustrations in Antonio Brown’s life both off and on the field.
It has been a bit of an odd year for the All-Pro, going back to OTAs when he ending up skipping something like the final seven or eight practices. When he reported for minicamp shortly after that, he essentially told the gathered media that he needed to take the time to reenergize and mentally prepare for the season—and for being a public figure.
It may have been somewhere around that point that Jesse Washington began doing research for his article. Somewhere along the line, Brown became aware of it, and stepped in to prevent the reporter from speaking to people who had made public social media comments against him. The receiver told him to stay in his lane, and an interview request was vehemently denied. We know what happened once the article came out.
It was at the same time that he was just overcoming a nagging injury that wiped out most of training camp for him, an experience he hasn’t really been familiar with, and which caused frustration. We saw him take that out on Ed Bouchette, to the point where he told the reporter that he was a racist. This was after he reported to training camp in a helicopter only to bemoan his stature as a public figure during an interview standing next to the helicopter.
There’s no doubt that Brown is an odd duck, prone to his eccentricities. His off-field behavior may have resulted in some failed relationships, business or romantic, but nothing that needs to be addressed beyond a talking to.
Blowing up on the sidelines is nothing new. It’s happened all along. He wants the ball, and he wants catchable balls. Whenever the team is losing and he’s not getting the on every play, pretty much, he’s going to get frustrated, because he believes he can make the difference.
Mike Tomlin, Cameron Heyward, and Ben Roethlisberger all more or less said that they were going to have a talk with Brown after he failed to report on Monday, for whatever reason. Truth be told, I ultimately don’t care why. They play on Monday Night this week anyway. His peers and head coach should suffice to set him straight. He is, after all, an adult. Fines, benching, all of that sort, is beyond what is required at this stage.