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 already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
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: Did Richard Mann’s retirement help enable Antonio Brown’s behavior this past year?
In spite of the fact that he is legitimately one of the top football players in the world, irrespective of position, the fact of the matter is that Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has never been a bastion of maturity. The fact that his first position coach was an inexperienced Scottie Montgomery probably didn’t help.
But before long Mike Tomlin brought in his old friend from the Tampa days, the old school Richard Mann, to drill his wide receivers, the ‘Young Money Crew’, of which Brown would ultimately emerge as…well, the wealthiest.
Mann was, by and large, of the no-nonsense sort, not necessarily a disciplinarian but a fundamentalist and a driller who expected dedication to detail and a commitment to repetition to produce perfection. I think it is believed by many that his steady hand may have helped to keep Brown relatively stabilized.
But Mann retired a year ago. Tomlin replaced him with Darryl Drake, ostensibly a coach cut from a similar cloth, another African American who is regarded as a technician and one who focuses on details. Both of them had a history of working with some characters at wide receiver such as Keyshawn Johnson and Brandon Marshall, so handling somebody like Brown shouldn’t have been new.
We don’t actually know anything when it comes to this topic, but I have seen many wondering. Did Mann’s departure have any influence over the way that Brown conducted himself this past year? Was Drake unable to do something that Mann was successful in doing with respect to reeling him in?
Or is that a completely inconsequential issue that would have had no impact on his decision to behave as he has. Right now he’s not even communicating with anybody within the organization. Maybe if we were to find out he was talking to Mann, there may be something to this. Unless some sort of report comes out, this will remain in the realm of idle speculation.