The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Could Antonio Brown really retire if the Steelers choose not to trade him and he chooses not to make peace?
Wide receiver Antonio Brown had been alluding to an interview for pretty much months now. That interview finally took place recently, and aired yesterday on ESPN. Over the course of 40-plus minutes, he discussed a diversity of topics about his background and his current situation with the Steelers.
At one point, he talked about the reality that he is well past a point in his life in which he needs to play football. He has already achieved long-term financial stability and then some. He literally lives in a mansion, after all, where the interview took place.
But he said that he continues to love the game and he wants to play—but he doesn’t have to, if he can’t do it on his terms. That sets up the following hypothetical: if he is unable to play the game on his terms in 2019 and beyond, would he actually consider walking away, even if only in an attempt to force the Steelers’ hand?
Brown has already cashed in over $70 million in career earnings, less the taxable portion of that amount, but suffice it to say that even a modicum of restraint would allow him to provide generational stability to his immediate family.
His brand will also allow him to sustain profitability beyond his playing days, which is something that he joked about on The Shop, as he and LeBron James alluded to a chicken commercial that Jerry Rice once did.
The Steelers are claiming that they won’t trade Brown unless it’s a deal that works for them. Brown is suggesting that he won’t play for the Steelers again because it’s simply time for both sides to move on. If the trade doesn’t happen, what comes next? Where is he in September?