James Jones had a nine-year NFL career from 2007 through the 2015 season, gaining over 5000 receiving yards and over 50 touchdowns. He joined the ranks of the media after he retired, and has brought to the table the personal connections that he has had with players. However, he has not necessarily practiced rigid journalistic integrity.
On Wednesday, the day of Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s press conference, Jones went on air and said that Ben Roethlisberger grew disgusted with wide receiver Antonio Brown during a walkthrough when he ran a wrong route, throwing the football down and aggressively demanding to get him off the field.
“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”, he said.
Jones claimed that this is what he was told by members of the team. Earlier today, Jeremy Fowler Tweeted that he spoke to a player on the team who witnessed the incident during the Wednesday walkthrough leading up to the season finale.
According to the player Fowler spoke to, “Roethlisberger didn’t say any of these lines”, also making reference to a claim Jones made that the quarterback told Brown during a meeting in front of other players that he doesn’t have to throw him the ball—which of course, he doesn’t.
FWIW, spoke to player who witnessed the whole thing last week who said Roethlisberger didn’t say any of these lines. Have also heard the Big Ben/AB relationship categorized as a love-hate relationship, to be sure. But you don’t hit six straight 100-catch seasons without trust. https://t.co/BCxQjtWkbA
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 6, 2019
The ESPN reporter did add that the relationship between the quarterback and wide receiver was categorized as a love/hate thing, but I don’t think that would be particularly surprising. It might be difficult for anybody to have anything other than a love/hate relationship with either one of them, quite frankly, as both have a tendency to do or say things that can rub people the wrong way.
We may never get all the facts surrounding the incident that supposedly set Brown off and saw him disappear over the weekend that led to his not playing in the season finale. In fact, it’s probably likely that we won’t.
I’m curious about Jones’ claim that it was Roethlisberger who threw a football in disgust, however, as the original report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette indicated that it was Brown who threw a football. I believe The Athletic also corroborated that account based on players spoken to.
Regardless of the specifics of that incident, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which it would have made sense for Brown to have acted as he did. That also seems to be the consensus opinion of many of his teammates, who may not have all the details, but who still disagree with what he did.
That was how Cameron Heyward categorized it around the same time everything was coming out. While he acknowledged that he didn’t see any incident, and was unclear about the status of Brown’s knee, he called the wide receivers’ actions “unacceptable”.