I think it’s pretty clear by now that Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert had no idea quite what kind of havoc he would unleash last Wednesday when he used the term “kids” to refer to the 52 players on the team’s roster that had not previously won a Super Bowl with the organization.
It might have been an innocuous comment in his mind, but it has been taken very differently around other parts of the football world, a fact that I must acknowledge regardless of how much I disagree with it.
One thing is obvious, however, and that is that it’s the best thing that could have happened for wide receiver Antonio Brown, who has been given the opportunity to seize upon that remark and retrofit it into the story that he has to tell about his mistreatment at the hands of the organization and his resentment of how quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has handled their relationship.
“What ideally grown man is calling another man a kid?”, he asked Jeff Darlington during a lengthy interview that aired earlier today. “52 kids, like, you don’t have no respect for these guys? These [are] the guys that go to work for you. And that’s what I’m telling you guys, that’s my issue, it’s all about respect”.
In spite of the fact that Colbert tried to rephrase his remarks two days later following some backlash, it did little good, including in Brown’s mind. “Of course he tried to clarify because he knows he stated the truth and he’s gonna backpedal on his words”, he said. “He confirmed the truth. There’s a guy and there’s 52 kids”.
In fact, he said that it’s not just himself taking issue with the remarks. Darlington brought up Maurkice Pouncey, and Brown jumped on that. “Pouncey’s a kid! That’s what he just said, he said Pouncey’s a kid. Pouncey my guy, I love him. I know Pouncey got a problem with that”.
Pouncey hasn’t actually commented on it in any way—Brown is the only player who has, to the best of my knowledge, but frankly, and sadly, it wouldn’t surprise me if this were the case. Nevertheless, Brown expressed an awareness of the prudence of not treating everybody equally provided that they are treated fairly.
“Obviously not everyone’s gonna be treated the same. Everyone’s on different levels. But there gotta be a common respect”, he said. “Because if there’s a common respect, this guy gonna go a little harder. That guy gonna go a little harder. And that’s gonna produce winning. I know what it take to win”.
He said that it’s “a little too late” for things to change now, however. “Things not getting better, they’re not changing. He just stated it. There’s 52 kids and there’s this guy. It’s like, bro, it’s one team. Obviously this guy’s here [raises left hand], but even if the team’s here [lowers right hand], when we together, we all here [hands meeting in the middle]”.
“How do you work for someone who think you a kid?”, he went on. “When you got the general manager calling you a kid, how does that make you feel?”. If you’re Brown, evidently, you’re happy, because it’s free ammunition to validate your story.