Well I didn’t exactly expect to be writing about James Harrison and Ryan Clark today but…here we are, once again. Antonio Brown is hanging out with Harrison and Clark is taking shots at him, and everything is going crazy in this installment of As the Pittsburgh Steelers Turn.
When the reports came out yesterday that Brown skipped practices and that his playing was not due to an injury, Clark, who works for ESPN, weighed in, recounting an event that he witnessed in 2012 with Brown going into his third season and about to receive a contract extension.
Clark recalled getting into it with Brown, who was yelling at Dick LeBeau and performing similar behaviors. The former safety concluded that the team would be best served by moving on from the wide receiver.
Brown responded to an Instagram post about the ESPN segment, calling Clark an “Uncle Tom”. Clark had a response again, appearing on the Rich Eisen Show. He said that he believes the team will try to keep him if he can be a decent teammate, but asked, “can you make that happen?”.
“We all believe they have the talent, we all believe they have the pieces.” –@realrclark25 told us what the solution is to the drama currently plaguing the #Steelers and @AB84: pic.twitter.com/rvrHTnKuk7
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) January 2, 2019
“Are there pieces you can put in place if you’re Coach Tomlin to ensure that that’s the way that this team rolls, because we all believe they have the talent, we all believe they have the pieces”, he said. “But when we see a season like we’ve seen this year, with so much infighting, dissing people and coming out in the media and exposing some things that usually isn’t exposed from active players on the team, it just seems tough to me that you find an in-house solution while keeping him there”.
While we’ve always known that Brown is not the most mature player in the locker room, and that as a personality he is not equipped to be a leader, I don’t think any of us imagined it would reach a point where we’re talking about somebody so toxic that it would be best to move on from him.
Is that where we are? My guess is that we find out over the next two and a half months.
“That’s gonna be the challenge” for Tomlin and company, Clark said, regarding trying to find a solution that keeps Brown on the team and in a healthy environment. “This window for the Pittsburgh Steelers as it’s currently constructed is closing now. Do you waste time trying to get rid of Antonio Brown and do you rebuild, or do you keep him and figure out a way to make this relationship tenable?”.
Clark also added that Tomlin bears a lot of responsibility for this, saying that “players are waiting for him to do something to fix the Antonio Brown situation. Players are waiting for him to step in in a way that not only holds Antonio accountable but allows him to play and helps this team win games”.
Former player Damien Woody also came to Clark’s defense after Brown called Clark an Uncle Tom, saying that it stems from “particularly black folks out here, who have a problem with black analysts telling it like it is, or calling it like it is. we lose credibility if we aren’t able to be critical of people who deserve criticism, if we don’t paint the picture, pull back the curtains, and let the fans really know what’s going on out here”.
— Damien Woody (@damienwoody) January 2, 2019
Brown has taken great effort in protecting his public image over the years, but much of that has revolved around attempting to cover things up that he’s done, rather than simply curating his own story. I can’t help but wonder if the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette never reported this and the Steelers made it to the postseason how this story might unfold differently.