The Rooney family has owned and operated the Pittsburgh Steelers since 1933, so I think it’s safe to say that they have had all sorts of personalities run through their locker room. They have had ministers and criminals at one time or another pass through the doors, bastions of humility and pure egotists. When you have such a long history, you’re liable to see just about everything at one time or another.
“I’ve been around a lot of football players over a lot of years, and they come in all shapes and sizes and colors”, Art Rooney II told reporters yesterday when he was asked about the current situation with Antonio Brown and how he chose not to communicate with the organization since before the regular season ended.
“We work hard to try and bring people here who we think are a good fit, but people are different, and we’ve had some different characters here and there over the years”, he went on. “So the bottom line is I’m disappointed over what happened at the end of the season, and if there are lessons to be learned here we’ll look at that and see what we can do better”.
The Steelers have seemed to waiver over the course of time in terms of trying to identify ‘people here who we think are a good fit’. The 2012 saw them bring in Mike Adams, Alameda Ta’amu, and Chris Rainey, but also David DeCastro, Sean Spence, and Kelvin Beachum.
We know how the former group of players turned out. All of them ran into trouble with the police in one sense or another within a year or two. The following year, they drafted heavily on character, or so they thought, bringing in a bunch of team captains, but then the next year it was Martavis Bryant and Dri Archer.
But I digress. What I really wanted to focus on was the end of Rooney’s quote, so let’s circle back. “If there are lessons to be learned here we’ll look at that and see what we can do better”, he said. I think—I hope—that that is the key to the offseason.
Rooney, Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and the entire organization understand that mistakes were made. The important part is having the ability to identify what the mistakes were—without outside influence—as well as to determine the appropriate way to address them.
Mistakes were certainly made on both sides in the Antonio Brown situation, even if it was simply a matter of enabling on the Steelers’ part. If that is the lesson that they have to learn then, well, I damn well hope they take the time to learn it over the course of the next two months.