It was a week ago today that a bothersome knee for Antonio Brown began to lead us down the road we’re currently barreling down. And let me assure you that that knee is quite bothersome whether it was ever injured or not.
The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver told Head Coach Mike Tomlin about it on Wednesday, and he was excluded from practice. “That was not a big deal for us”, he said. “We came in on Thursday, he expressed continuing to feel that discomfort. Again, given the fact that this was the Cincinnati Bengals, second time a divisional opponent, in terms of the familiarity, it wasn’t anything to ring the alarm bells about. We worked younger people. I listed him on the injury report that day with the knee that he described”.
The report was that, following a 14-catch, 185-yard game playing on artificial turf in New Orleans, Brown had tweaked a knee that had become bothersome during the week, but nobody seems to know whether or not that is actually the case.
“Friday is kind of the witching hour”, Tomlin said. “When he came in and expressed discomfort in his knee on Friday, and the fact that he wouldn’t be able to participate on Friday, that’s when we sent him to get an MRI, and at that time I instructed him after he gets the MRI to go home and get off his feet and lay low and that I would communicate with him Friday evening and we’ll plot out our course of action from there”.
That is when the wide receiver went AWOL and stopped communicating—and resulted in him not participating in the game, thinking that he would be able to dictate the situation on his own. Tomlin showed him that that would not be the case.
“We wanted to leave the light on in terms of his participation. That was the nature of our conversation” on Friday morning, he said. “That’s what I outlined to you guys after practice. That’s why we listed him as questionable for the game. Then after Friday’s business was done, it became difficult to communicate and catch up with him”.
“I wasn’t able to communicate with him on Friday evening or Saturday morning, so when we had our Saturday morning mock game or waltkthrough, and he was unavailable and we hadn’t communicated with him, then it became something altogether different”, he went on.
“We decided to focus our energies on the guys that were working and prepared to work in present, so those are the guys that we prepared to play in the football game”, Tomlin continued. “Woke up Sunday morning, got a call from his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Drew expressed that he was feeling better and that he would potentially be able to participate. I outlined to Drew that decisions weren’t made like that, but I would be interested in visiting with him in the stadium prior to the game, but playing wasn’t on the menu”.
When you have your agent call your head coach instead of calling him yourself, that’s already a bad sign, if we’re being upfront. Tomlin said that he only spoke to Brown once since that Friday morning, and that we just before Sunday’s game.
“Drew relayed that to him, I met with AB prior to the game, he asked what he could do”, he said. “I said the best thing he could do in terms of helping us win the game is to be there and support his teammates. He agreed to do that. We had a general conversation about his overall health. I sent him to the training staff…and that was the last conversation I had with him”.
According to reports, Brown left the stadium at halftime, and it’s not clear if anyone other than George Kittle or James Harrison have heard from him since.