Antonio Brown hasn’t necessarily done the best job over the course of the past two months of selling himself as the victim of an oppressive and abusive Pittsburgh Steelers regime that has enabled quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to have his way at the expense of himself and others. He has an explanation for that, too, however.
In a brief segment on HBO’s The Shop in which he chatted with NBA All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Brown got a lot of things off his chest that had only been reported via ‘sources’ or that he only hinted at in his sporadic public and social media ramblings.
But he presented an overarching hypothesis to explain why he feels it’s necessary to part ways with the team that took the chance on him nine years ago in the sixth round, which helped to enable him to become the best wide receiver in the NFL.
It’s because the Steelers are able to create the headlines that they want to be read, and they have used that power to make Brown, or whoever they need to, look like they are the problem. That includes Head Coach Mike Tomlin as the mouthpiece for the front office during the season.
“So the last week of the season, we going into the final game, we gotta win, and we gotta hope the Ravens don’t win so we could advance to the playoffs. I’m a little banged up, so I meet with Coach Tomlin, I tell him like, ‘hey man, I’m a little banged up, so Imma need a little time to get right’”.
From Tomlin’s version of the story, he permitted Brown not to participate on each day of practice that week when Brown game to him and continued to tell him that his knee wasn’t right. He also said that he instructed Brown to get an MRI that he never got. After that, Brown went silent, and Tomlin’s inability to ascertain his wide receiver’s health status was the reason that he decided to deactivate him.
“So he’s like, ‘if you banged up, you can just go home’”, Brown said he was told by Tomlin. “Like, you ain’t even gotta be here. So I’m like, ‘damn, that’s where we at?’ It’s like I’m going to war for these guys, putting my life on the line, it’s an unknown when they come to me. The write-ups, it’s like, they control the narrative, so we ain’t standing on good foundation. They could just paint you any kind of way”.
Basically, Brown is saying that Tomlin and the organization characterized him as an insubordinate, whereas his position is that Tomlin telling him to go home if he was injured was an example of the disrespect shown toward him.
“That’s the thing people don’t know”, he said. “It’s like they control the environment to where they could kinda determine if they wanna let me eat or not”. Later, he said, “now they’re showing me the reality”.
I think we’ve all had more than we bargained for in terms of the reality show that has become the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s clear now more than ever that the two sides are going to have to part ways. But for Brown, it’s because of how the team chose to paint him, showing him disrespect.