There have been plenty of great players over the course of the history of the NFL. Some of them are most remembered for being great. Others might only partially be remembered for their skills on the field, while another, less flattering issue at least shares the spotlight, if not drowns out his accomplishments.
One of the great running backs in Pittsburgh Steelers history, Jerome Bettis, is hoping that wide receiver Antonio Brown never winds up in that latter category when all is said and done. The nine-year veteran is unquestionably one of the great players in all of football right now and is making a very serious push to be regarded as one of the best of all time if he can continue on the path he has gone down.
Coming off a 104-catch, 1297-yard, 15-touchdown season, it is unclear if Brown will play his 10th season in Pittsburgh for the team that drafted him in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. It’s unclear if he even wants to—in fact, he has given strong indications to the contrary, and that has been the primary conversation about the Steelers so far over the past month since he went AWOL in Week 17.
“It’s disappointing because I know how great Antonio Brown is, I know how much he loves the city of Pittsburgh and I do know how much he appreciates that organization”, Bettis said recently. “There’s that issue where they gotta kinda talk through those things, but I would hate for this to be the end of his career” with the Steelers.
“But also I think for his legacy, when I think you look at him 10 years down the road, I don’t want that this moment defining the player he is”, he went on, “because he’s much more than this issue; incredible football player and he’s a really good person if you get a chance to know him”.
Bettis, of course, is a player who spent the early portions of his career with the St. Louis Rams before they traded him to the Steelers. Bettis had grown dissatisfied with his place in the organization, though he didn’t force the trade on the team, nor were they tied to him financially the way Pittsburgh is to Brown.
He went on to lead the team for a decade, helping them finally win ‘one for the thumb’ in his hometown of Detroit before making his final stop in Canton, Ohio for his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Brown could very well end up there someday as well. Through his first nine seasons, he has caught 837 passes for 11207 yards with 74 touchdowns. Those numbers currently rank 28th, 34th, and 35th all-time, but he could conceivably move up substantially in each category over the next year or two. Brown ranks 2nd, 4th, and 14th all-time in those categories for the first nine seasons of a player’s career.