While the major story coming from Sunday’s game should have been the Pittsburgh Steelers losing, it instead ended up being the sideline discussion between wide receiver Antonio Brown and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner.
Those on the outside made this into a pretty big deal, but it wasn’t for either of the participants, both of whom talked earlier today about a relationship that goes back for well over a decade. “Randy’s the reason I’m here. He recruited me”, Brown said. Fichtner later confirmed that.
Fichtner was the Steelers’ quarterbacks coach by 2010 when Brown was coming out of college, and was at his team’s Pro Day to scout their quarterback, but he had previously been the wide receivers coach. And, as he told reporters, he knew Brown before that as well. “I was at his Pro Day. I’ve known him since he was in high school”, he said, courtesy of the team’s media department, telling those gathered that he recruited Brown to play for him while he was coaching at the college level.
“If you see me in his face talking, that’s just because we have that type of respect for each other where I can talk to him like that”, Brown said of his sideline discussion with Fichtner. “We know each other on that type of level. It’s not no disrespect. You ask Randy what I’m saying, I’m [talking about] winning. But obviously I’m misunderstood. You guys wouldn’t have a clue”.
The offensive coordinator shared a similar sentiment, admitting that they “got into a little heated argument” before quickly adding that it was “not really an argument because I never really though about it as that”. He said that “it wasn’t an issue on the field, and didn’t even remember exactly what was said because it was that insignificant, chalking it up to his desire to contribute.
“I want him to be passionate and I want his communication”, he said. He certainly got that. For Brown’s part, he said, “I never yelled at Randy. We just talked. I got a great relationship with Randy”. And it’s true that you could see even last year the two were close on the sidelines.
Fichtner said that it was not the first time that he has seen that type of response from Brown on the sideline before, though it was perhaps the first he has gotten as his offensive coordinator. All involved seemed to agree that the ‘little heated argument was a product of passion.
One thing that I want to clarify that has been lost over the past few days is when this all took place. Brown began on the sideline while the team was driving in the third quarter to tie the game at 28. He was not even on the field for the two James Conner runs from the one-yard line, as the team was in 23 personnel.
The team had not scored at that point, so to say that he was upset when the team had tied the game is false. In fact, he was not on the field for four of the final seven plays of the drive. Many have tried to paint the discussion as him being upset that he wasn’t the one who scored, so this is worth clarifying. He was not even on the field for the play that tied the game. No wide receiver was.