Just days removed from his being benched on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns for disciplinary purposes, third-year cornerback Artie Burns was back on the field running with the first-team defense while prior starter Coty Sensabaugh watched from the sidelines, nursing a toe injury.
The reason for his benching was because he was late to a Saturday walkthrough, and he grew testy when asked about it yesterday. “You got the story”, he said, adding that he was “just a little” late, offering no excuse for the tardiness. “You’re asking me questions that you all already know. Come on now”, he said.
Burns had started every game of his career from the eighth game of his rookie season until the third game of this season, when the top billing was instead handed to Sensabaugh and the two began to work in a rotation that remained in place until Sunday’s benching.
While he went back to the ‘starting’ role after that first removal from the lineup, he was still forced into a rotation and shared snaps, he and Sensabaugh rotating roughly every two or three possessions, depending on their duration.
Burns was not very forthcoming in discussing the situation. “It is what it is”, he said. “Life goes on”. On whether or not it’s all behind him and Head Coach Mike Tomlin now, he offered, “I guess so. I don’t know what to say. I mean, I guess so”.
The rest of his answers were either short or testy, ultimately saying, “you’re asking me questions like I’m a coach or something”. It’s obvious that he is in no mood to be detailing the minutiae of his professional dilemma as a real-time narrative as he lives it.
Unfortunately for him, that is part of the life of a professional athlete in this day and age. It’s even written into contracts and bargaining agreements that a certain level of cooperation with the media is part of your job, your obligations that come with your pay checks.
That said, while I understand that it’s part of his job to face up to reporters no matter what he is going through professionally, and I also understand that he is well-compensated, I still sympathize. This season has certainly not gone in any way like he thought it would.
I also keep coming back to the fact that he is 23 years old, even though he is in his third season. A lot of people are not particularly mature at that age, and frankly Burns has already gone through enough in his life that has forced him to mature quicker than one typically ought to.
Either way, as it currently stands, it looks as though he will be getting back out on the field on defense this week. That is when and where he would like to provide the answers to all the questions, not in the locker room with a sea of microphones hovering around his head.