What really happened last Wednesday during the Pittsburgh Steelers Wednesday walkthrough that set off wide receiver Antonio Brown and resulted in him going AWOL from the team until Sunday? Was it just one thing, or maybe a combination of things that built up inside Brown that led to his actions? We might never know the full story even though there are now several reports floating around claiming to know the reason or reasons why Brown acted the way he did last week. In fact, Albert Breer of Sports illustrated wrote Thursday morning why he believes Brown went AWOL.
“Brown has explained to those close to him that he didn’t feel some of his teammates were as invested in 2018 as he was, and it was showing up in their work, and he was fed up with it. The standard, as he saw it, was slipping,” Breer reported. “And his side of the story holds that his handling of last week—from the Wednesday outburst to the Saturday no-show—was a manifestation of how he felt about the state of the team.”
It seems kind of way out there that Brown would go AWOL for multiple days just because he felt like some of his teammates weren’t as invested in 2018 as he was. I could maybe understand him storming off on Wednesday upset for such a reason, but certainly not him taking the rest of the week off. Also, him reportedly not answering calls from teammates and the organization after Wednesday and then allegedly having his agent call head coach Mike Tomlin Sunday morning to let him know he was ready to play was also way, way out of line and unfathomable.
Breer also mentioned in his Thursday report that Brown wasn’t happy about fellow wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster being voted the team’s MVP last week and especially after the game Brown had in Week 16 in the road loss to the New Orleans Saints.
“He was just frustrated,” said one source, according to Breer. “The MVP vote—it’s those things that set him off. He was unreal in New Orleans, we still lost, and the vote comes out and it’s JuJu. So he shows up for work, he’s not voted MVP, he’s in a bad way, and that carried over into the walkthrough.”
I can certainly believe that Brown was bitter about not being named team MVP, if indeed that vote even took place and the results known before that walkthrough, but even if that was the case, that didn’t warrant him going AWOL for multiple days like he did last week. His actions, if indeed they were a direct result of him not being voted team MVP are true, he should now be classified as a Super Diva.
Brown remains arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL even though his stats took a small dive in 2018. The fact that Smith-Schuster had the statistical season that he had helps bolster that notion even more and it’s sad that Brown might not see it that way.
Personally, I think there were more than just a few reasons why Brown acted the way he did last week and yes, him not being voted team MVP probably served as the proverbial lit match to finally set off the explosion. Once again, we might not ever know what the reason or reasons were for Brown acting like he did.
With the 2018 season now over for the Steelers, Brown and the entire organization need to quickly work together to find and resolve the differences each have with one another. Brown needs to get comfortable with the fact that he needs the Steelers and them him and an understanding between the two sides needs to be agreed upon that any further distractions from the player just can’t continue to be tolerated.
It’s already sad enough that we’re having to write about the Steelers 2018 season ending way prematurely then it should have and even sadder that we’re quickly having to write about the 2019 season starting off with a large bout of unnecessary drama that could ultimately be somewhat blamed for the 2019 season ending the same way.