There is a sense of finality settling in to The Antonio Brown Situation™ over the past 24 hours following the meeting that took place between the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and his employer, team president Art Rooney II, in which Brown noted that both agreed it was time for the two sides to go their separate ways.
When the meeting was first announced, it wasn’t entirely clear what that would mean. Was Rooney still trying to woo him back? Had Brown had a change of heart, becoming open to a reconciliation? In hindsight, it doesn’t appear that either of these two scenarios were likely.
Rather, this meeting, initiated by Rooney, was about one thing: knowledge. As the owner said previously this offseason, he just wanted to sit down with Brown and hear what he had to say about how things got to the way that they are and what happened along the way.
While it’s fine to get the autopsy of the current situation, the reality is that this is a fact-finding mission and a learning experience that will help to shape or reshape the Steelers’ approach in personnel relations in the future. Pittsburgh is a very old school organization in many ways, but sometimes they realize when it’s time to take a step into the current era.
And one of the ways in which they now appear to realize that they must modernize is in how they handle their star players. That is where this sit-down with Brown will come in handy. What he tells them will help them to prevent the situation with any other player from reaching a similar point.
I believe, and the Steelers do as well, that the climate of our society today, which includes the ubiquitous nature of communications technology, has played a key role in slowly changing players’ behavior, and Pittsburgh as been one of the guinea pigs in dealing with the latest incarnation of the modern athlete.
Adapt and survive is the name of the game, and that is what they will do, or at least what they ought to do. Figure out the mistakes that you made with Brown, and with Le’Veon Bell, and whoever else might be relevant to the discussion. Reevaluate those relationships and unlock the secrets to their failure in order to prevent it from happening again.
It’s unfortunate that is has taken the fracture of the relationship between one of the great athletes in recent Steelers history to reach this point, but frankly, what’s done is done. And perhaps many of the trials the team faced with Brown were unavoidable no matter what they have done.
But they can still learn how to handle things better next time. And there will always be a next time. Always.