Wide receiver Antonio Brown is ready to put on another uniform for the 2019 season and beyond. But the perennial Pro Bowler recently told Jeff Darlington of ESPN that he will always consider himself a Pittsburgh Steeler during a lengthy sit-down interview for the network.
“I’ll always be a Steeler. I’ll always be able to come back and share love and be a part of history in some sort of regard”, he said. Such a comment seems to strike an odd parallel with the manner in which another wide receiver parted ways with the team via trade in recent history in Santonio Holmes. He is now a regular at Steelers-related events.
Brown also let it be known that while he is ready to move on, he considers it a business decision, and not a personal one. “It’s a business, and in business, some things are not personal”, he told Darlington. “So for me it’s not personal between me and the organization. It’s just where I’m at now, you’re either helping me build or you’re stopping me, so what are we doing?”
“It’s not personal at all. It’s not personal”, he went on. “I met with Mr. Rooney, he knows it’s not personal”. When asked to divulge what he spoke about with the team’s president, Art Rooney II, he said that “it was appreciation”.
“Thanks for the opportunity. Thanks for giving a 21-year-old kid an opportunity to live his dream and experience the NFL really at a high level”, he said of his message to Rooney. “By me playing for the Steelers, it gave me the opportunity for everyone to know who I am, gave me an opportunity for me to not only bless my family, just bless everyone around me”.
In nine seasons, Brown is a seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro. To date, he has earned over $72 million in his pocket, and the three years remaining on his current contract run up an additional $30 million, give or take.
“I’m super grateful, honored to be a part of such a great organization, to learn about the ecosystem and how they run a business”, he said. “To be able to fill in the gap for the fans, that can never be replaced. When I run in that stadium, that feeling that they give me, it was second to none”.
But ultimately “it wasn’t right for their business, it wasn’t right for my business”.
Of course, he’s speaking as though it’s a done deal that he will no longer be a part of the Steelers organization, but they continue to control his rights for the next three years. The only way he could void that is by retiring, an option that he seemed to suggest was on the table.
Still, a trade is overwhelmingly likely at this point. The question is, what will his relationship with the organization be five years from now, or 10 years? He seems to think they can have an amicable arrangement in the future.