Pittsburgh Steelers drama is good business for former members of the team who have worked their way into the media, because they instantly become in-demand in the hopes that they will be able to provide any type of inside information. Former Steelers safety Ryan Clark has gotten the spotlight a number of times over the course of the past week because of that.
He drew headlines after relaying a story from early in the 2012 season, just as Antonio Brown was getting paid, essentially saying that at the time doing so would create a monster. He was the first of the ‘young money crew’ to get paid. Clark expanded on his thoughts yesterday.
“A lot of times when people get money, when you get success, you only become more of what you already are”, he observed. “So this is a situation in Pittsburgh where if things weren’t catered to Antonio Brown, if Antonio Brown wasn’t consistently 100 percent comfortable, he was going to make other people uncomfortable”.
He suggested that Brown was able to fly under the public radar in spite of his antics behind the scenes “because of the smile, because of the charisma, because of the personality” …and of course because of the Steelers’ being able to keep a lid on many things in the early goings.
In spite of the fact that he is one of their best, most well-known, most highly-compensated, and most veteran players, Clark says, he doesn’t have the personality to be a leader, but he is a ‘leader’ by default for the reasons listed. “Internally, the fabric of the locker room changes with his behavior”, he argues.
“Mike Tomlin’s a coach that allows his players to be individuals”, he observed. “He doesn’t suppress who they are, but in Antonio Brown’s situation, he’s not a guy who’s mature enough to handle it, even though he will be 31. He’s a guy who’s not ‘team’ enough to handle it. And now you’re seeing some of those things boil over”.
Unfortunately, none of this should be surprising for those who have looked to pay close attention throughout the years. Even in his relationship with JuJu Smith-Schuster, he is quick to call Brown a leader and a mentor, but when asked for tangible examples, he has to admit that most of it is from watching him work.
Clark also talked about the roles that Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger have played that has allowed the situation to reach this point where they have to have a serious conversation about whether or not the relationship can be salvaged just one year into a four-year extension.
Brown is coming off a 104-catch, 1297-yard, 15-touchdown season, and yet we’re talking about how he might be so toxic that the Steelers as a team might be best served by trading him. Most of that is simply on him, because he is responsible for his own behavior, but the team has allowed it to reach this impasse as well.