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: Does Antonio Brown really want to play somewhere else?
The Steelers kicked their offseason into overdrive this year, the first in five years in which they will not have a postseason game to play, finding themselves currently at the height of NFL drama. Wide receiver Antonio Brown had a knee injury, possibly real or not, that ‘prevented’ him from playing Sunday, only for us to later learn that the decision was made to sit him down for reasons other than health.
The nine-year veteran skipped practice and mandatory meetings, which prompted presumably Mike Tomlin to make the decision that he would not dress for the season finale. Brown also reportedly suggested, whether in anger or in earnest, that he would like to be traded, and left a trail of social media breadcrumbs to the San Francisco 49ers.
What are we to take away from all of this? How much of it is actually true, and how much distortion? While we have known for many years that Brown is not the most mature player on the team and can have selfish tendencies, as far as we know he’s never skipped practice before.
Maybe we’ll set some more clarification today when Tomlin holds his final press conference of the season to wrap everything up, but we’ll see about that. It would be pretty hard for him to avoid talking about it since most of the questions will be about Brown, you can bet, so his best approach would likely be to be as forthcoming as possible, within reason.
As far as my own thinking goes, I do think there’s a lot of smoke, but no fire. Brown needs to cool down, and he’ll have the offseason to do it. He hasn’t had the time to adjust to having such a strong rival on his own team before in JuJu Smith-Schuster, so maybe that takes time.