Often times the question has been thrown around “What would have happened if diva-like receivers such as Terrell Owens had played during the social media era?” Antonio Brown’s latest saga with the Pittsburgh Steelers is doing a good job at answering that, as the wide receiver has used his social media platforms to force a split from the team. Ironically, there are a lot of similarities in the playbook used to fuel Brown’s current dispute and Owens’ 2005 contract dispute with the Philadelphia Eagles. For one man, it might be a complete deja-vu, and that man just so happens to currently represent Brown and also represented Owens 14 years ago. That man is NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus.
First Down: More Money
A year after signing a seven year $49 million deal with the Eagles, Owens had felt he was being underpaid. The Eagles wide receiver hired Rosenhaus in April 2005 with the intention of getting him a new contract with the Eagles.
“When he and I crossed paths for the first time in April 2005, I agreed and he hired me shortly thereafter to get him a new contract,” says Rosenhaus.
A hired mercenary, Rosenhaus’ sole focus was to get Owens a new deal with the Eagles, a similar position he finds himself in with Brown.
Neither the Steelers’ receiver or Brown have hid their intentions for more guaranteed money. There were the Instagram lives in which Brown proclaimed “If your team got guaranteed money and want to work with me, tell them to call me.”
Rosenhaus backed up his client, telling ESPN Live, ““Well, I’m never going to disagree with the client. Antonio was clear about what he’s looking for and my job is to make everything happen that I can, that’s in my client’s best interest,”
Owens and Rosenhaus were quickly told no when it came to renegotiating his deal and it becomes beyond evident that Owens and Brown shared a similar playbook in trying to accomplish their goal. Realizing that both receivers were stuck in a contract with their respective teams, the next step was to cause chaos and disruption, presumably to get released and obtain free will to negotiate with other teams.
Second Down: Practice Meltdown
Owens’ blow-ups started in training camp and went on till mid-season. The talented receiver was sent home in training camp after getting into a heated dispute with coach Andy Reid. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a mid-season incident at practice with team ambassador Hugh Douglas. Owens, who was already suspended for comments about the organization saw his suspension extended and was told he would be deactivated for the final five games of the season.
Brown had his own practice meltdown of his own during a Wednesday walkthrough during Week 17 of the 2018 season. The details of the incident range anywhere from a heated dispute with Ben Roethlisberger to nothing happening at all. What is known is that Brown did not show up to practice the rest of the week. The reason for that is also murky as some allege Brown went AWOL while the receiver insists that after telling coach Mike Tomlin he was banged up, he was told to go home. Brown was also deactivated for the Steelers’ final game of the season.
Third Down: Quarterback Bashing
In both of these disputes, no player felt the aftermath of the receivers’ actions more than the man throwing them the ball. For Owens, Donovan McNabb had become his targeted foe while Brown has gone after Roethlisberger.
Owens had initially been suspended after going on ESPN and proclaiming that the Eagles showed a “lack of class” for not commemorating his 100th career touchdown catch. Next, he turned his sights on McNabb, agreeing that the Eagles would be better off with Brett Favre at quarterback rather than McNabb. The following day, Owens issued an apology but no mention of McNabb was made.
It is incredibly ironic that Brown also chose to use ESPN to air his grievances about his quarterback, criticizing Roethlisberger on his alleged hypocrisy.
“Don’t say I’m your guy and then point fingers. Don’t say I’m your guy and don’t know throw me the ball the whole first quarter. Don’t say I’m your guy and you’re asking my coach, ‘Yo, what’s wrong with AB?’ Or I’m injured in training camp, I got to go away to get treatment and now you tell the coach to come down on me,” Brown told ESPN.
Fourth Down: Punt
Following the 2005 season, the Eagles had decided Owens’ talent was not worth his detrimental actions. The team finally caved and allowed Rosenhaus to seek a trade for his client. Despite being signed to a fair market deal, teams were reluctant to offer the Eagles anything notable as they knew Owens was due a signing bonus and roster bonus by mid March. One day before he was due a $5million roster bonus, the Eagles punted and released Owens, finally giving him the ability to fetch a contract to his liking.
Four days later Owens signed a three-year, $25 million deal with the Dallas Cowboys.
Just like 13 years ago with the Eagles, the Steelers are actively trying to trade Brown before his roster bonus is due. Brown is due $2.5 million on March 17 and the team is hoping to trade him by then. Brown has tried his absolute hardest to presumably get released in order to freely negotiate, though it does not look like he will get his wish. General Manager Kevin Colbert has recently said that the Steelers will not release Brown nor have they ruled out trading him after post March 14.
While Brown has taken plays from the same playbook Owens wrote over a decade ago, the NFL will have to wait a bit longer for the end result. Though there are many questions still unanswered about Brown’s future such as his contract demands or willingness to play, perhaps the answer can also be found in the playbook of Owens and Rosenhaus.
In the famous words of Drew Rosenhaus, “Next question.”