The Pittsburgh Steelers have two Pro Bowl wide receivers this year in Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, but only one of them is in Orlando right now. Brown, the veteran of nine years, was selected to the Pro Bowl outright but backed out citing injury. Smith-Schuster was his replacement for the game as the presumed first alternate.
Both of them caught over 100 passes for over 1250 yards. Smith-Schuster caught seven touchdown passes, while Brown had more than twice as many, his 15 scoring snares registering as the top mark in the entire NFL.
Smith-Schuster, 22, has always been highly complimentary of Brown and the role that he has played in his development over the course of the first two seasons. Both of them have talked about how they fire each other up for games—or rather, that they fire each other up. How they actually do it remains a secret.
In spite of their relationship, which genuinely seems to be on of mutual respect and appreciation, Smith-Schuster admitted at the Pro Bowl that while he has reached out to Brown this offseason, he still hasn’t heard back.
“I mean, he’s on vacation right now so, I mean I wouldn’t want to be bothered too with all that”, he said. “We’re just kind of doing what we’re doing”. When he was asked if he expected that he would eventually hear from Brown, he said, “oh yeah for sure, no doubt. No doubt”.
Still, as he was continually pressed for answers or takes on Brown and his situation, as you knew he would be, and I’m sure he knew as well, the wide receiver was understandably ready to talk about something else—anything else.
“Honestly at the end of the day I’m just focusing on myself”, he said. “You guys can ask AB when you get a chance. I’m focusing on my own campaign”. After all, Smith-Schuster is in the Pro Bowl, right? He should be down there celebrating his own individual achievements. Even though he made it as an alternate, he earned this distinction.
He did offer one more answer when a reporter asked if he felt that Brown would be welcomed back into the locker room should that ultimately be how this situation plays out. “At the end of the day, he is our teammate. He is our guy. So, yeah”, he said.
How long will Brown’s vacation last? When will he start picking up the phone? Will he wait until after he sees on NFL Network that the Steelers are trading him?