Is Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to blame for wide receiver Antonio Brown going AWOL a few days before the team’s Sunday regular season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals? Former NFL wide receiver-turned-NFL Network analyst James Jones thinks so.
“And Wednesday in practice, when he [Brown] did practice, I heard he ran the wrong route, Big Ben threw the ball on the ground, said ‘Get him out of here, get somebody else in there’ and that’s when AB was at his boiling point and that’s when he went off,” Jones said on the Wednesday edition of NFL Total Access.
Jones went on to say that Brown also reportedly not returning Roethlisberger’s calls is a sign that the two players aren’t as close and friendly as the two may let on that they are.
“But for him not to call him back and respond, that lets you know the relationship that they have and he’s not digging Big Ben like that and it’s always somebody else’s fault but his,” Jones said.
For what it’s worth, Roethlisberger said on Tuesday that he didn’t know about any Wednesday blowup or fight between himself and Brown and that he had even talked to the wide receiver Thursday morning and believed that everything was fine between the two.
“He and I talked [Thursday morning] and that’s the last time I spoke with him,” Roethlisberger said. “I’ve reached out to him numerous times. I’ve called him, texted him, I know other guys on the team have, too, and haven’t heard back from him. But Thursday morning he and I talked and there was no issue. So, I’m not really sure.”
Jones also seems to think that Roethlisberger doesn’t get enough blame for some of the other past drama that has gone on with the Steelers over the years.
“You know, it’s crazy listening to all that. There’s one common denominator in this whole thing. It’s always on Tomlin or AB, it’s never on Big Ben No. 7. He’s never the problem,” Jones asserted Wednesday evening. “There’s been a lot of guys come in that building and it’s never Big Ben, it’s always that other guy. But I have talked to a couple people in the Pittsburgh Steelers organization and they told me this has been lingering on.
“Big Ben and AB’s relationship is not like that. They may try to cover it up in public. AB has never came out and thrashed Big Ben, but Big Ben has came out and said things about AB and other players and other receivers. But their relationship is not like that and I’ve been told in meetings he would take shots at AB, like, ‘I don’t gotta throw you the ball’ and things like that.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked on Wednesday during his end-of-the-season press conference if he remembers there being any issue between Roethlisberger and Brown during a practice last week.
“I’m sure there are situations and conversations and disagreements that go on, professionally speaking, all the time, but not anything of any significance that would produce the conversation that we’re having or something that we’d need to overcome in the manner in which we’re discussing,” Tomlin said.
So, did Roethlisberger and Brown have a seemingly normal disagreement during Wednesday’s walkthrough that pushed Brown over the edge? I suppose it’s possible. If that’s indeed what happened, Brown should have been able to get over it by Thursday and by Friday at the latest. Him skipping out on his team and not communicating with any teammates or members of the organization until his agent Drew Rosenhaus called Tomlin Sunday morning to inform him that his client would likely be able to participate in the game against the Bengals is unacceptable, and it’s not surprising that Tomlin decided to hold the wide receiver out.
We certainly haven’t heard the last of all this and it will be interesting to watch if any reconciliation is achieved with Brown and the Steelers in the coming days or weeks and if the wide receiver is ultimately allowed to continue his career in Pittsburgh. It will also be interesting to see if Roethlisberger gets any more blame for Brown’s actions last week.