Several past and present Pittsburgh Steelers players made it to Atlanta, GA this week to partake in media obligations ahead of Super Bowl LIII being played and every time that one has conducted a media interview, each has predictably been asked to comment on the current state of organization as well as the status of wide receiver Antonio Brown. On Friday, it was defensive lineman Cameron Heyward who made the media rounds in Atlanta and right on cue he was asked several questions about Brown.
During an interview with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk on ‘PFT Live,’ it didn’t take too long for Heyward to be asked if he believes the situation between Brown and the Steelers can be fixed in the coming weeks.
“I think so,” Heyward said.
Florio then quickly asked Heyward what he thinks needs to happen for things between Brown and the Steelers to get resolved.
“Communication from all heads,” Heyward said. “I think some things might be misconstrued and I don’t want anyone to think that anyone’s putting anybody down, but everybody has to be accountable and everybody has to try to move forward. I think a trade doesn’t fix anything. We want to win, he wants to win and we all want to win together.”
After being informed that Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has been in Atlanta this week acting somewhat like a peacemaker in an attempt to bring all parties involved together, Heyward was asked what his role has been in attempting to solve the problem between Brown and everybody he’s seemingly still at odds with.
“I think that’s all you can do,” Heyward said. “I understand it’s a business and things get said and everybody wants to do this, do that, but be a peacemaker. But also understand that to win, everybody’s got to want to win, everybody’s got to want to be a part of this. If he [Brown] wants to go somewhere else and the Lord thinks it’s time for him to do something different, we support it. But I think I want AB here. I think a lot of guys do, too.”
Heyward was then asked if he thinks Brown indeed wants out of Pittsburgh and after saying he doesn’t know for sure, he was quickly asked if the embattled wide receiver has been responsive to him at all.
“Not really,” Heyward replied. “And I think he’s tried to just be professional and that sort because he doesn’t want to say anything wrong or step on people’s feet. But I want AB here in Pittsburgh and I just hope we move forward towards that.”
After being thrown those easier questions, Florio then proceeded to ask Heyward a tougher one related to the current perception that Brown has a different standard applied to him than other Steelers players. As part of that question, Florio referenced the recent ESPN.com article that stated how Brown had his own place off campus while at training camp and that he shows up whenever he wants to. Florio capped that long-winded question off by asking Heyward how he thinks a former sixth-round draft pick such as Brown got to the point where he feels like he can act like a first-round pick.
“I don’t know how it transpired, exactly,” Heyward replied. “But I think most people looked at his work and most people understood that AB has worked his tail off for everything he’s got. And through everything he’s got, it just culminated into something. When AB’s on that field, you’re getting 120 percent. I’ve always said he’s one of the hardest-workers on our team. And AB’s grown a lot but I think the other things have outweighed what he’s put on the field. And it’s been kind of messed up because everybody’s looked at – oh, he’s gotten a pass on this, oh, he’s gotten a pass on that – and that when really, we let some stuff go and the accountability just needs to be different.”
There’s that accountability word again and it’s a word we’ve heard quite a bit since the 2018 season ended. It’s a word that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will hear and be asked to comment on quite a bit between now and the start of the 2019 regular season, regardless of what happens to Brown this offseason.
While Heyward attempted to choose his words carefully during his interview with Florio, near the end of his talk you could tell that while he’s very much hopeful that Brown hasn’t played his last down with the Steelers, he’s still probably somewhat irked by the wide receiver going AWOL during the final week of the 2018 regular season.
“I think AB’s still learning,” Heyward said. “We all make mistakes. I’m not going to say I’m perfect, but I don’t just say he was wrong or we were wrong, but it’s about growing. I don’t want to think that because he made a mistake, I’m going to treat you differently. I’m going to treat you just like every other teammate, but I’m going to tell you when you’re wrong and what happened was not right.”
In a separate Friday interview on 93.7 The Fan, Heyward also passed along similar comments on what he thinks about Brown’s actions from a few weeks ago.
“I’m not condemning him but I’m saying that was not right and I’m not happy with the situation but moving forward I still want him to be a part of this team because I think he can help us win,” said Heyward. “The ball’s in AB’s court and I don’t know what the front office is going to do but I’m fighting for everybody to be here because I think this group and him included can do special things.”