Kevin Colbert really served up a softball for Antonio Brown’s theatrics on his way out the door when he erred in referring to most of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster as ‘kids’ in comparison to Ben Roethlisberger, the lone player on the team who had won a Super Bowl with the organization.
It gave Brown the pretext to seize upon the comment and paint it as the evidence he needed to show the sort of disrespect he had been subjected to over the years, denying the so-called family values of the Rooney family. He went so far as to throw Maurkice Pouncey’s name into the mix, who proceeded to sign an extension with the Steelers and praise the family-oriented environment of the team.
And so at his introductory press conference with the Oakland Raiders, he praised himself for his accountability and the fact that his actions speak louder than his words.
Then proceeded to repeatedly refer to Pittsburgh using the term “kids”, and to Oakland with “guys” and “mister”. Oh, and the Hulk Hogan mustache is gone, too. It’s all starting to feel as though, through the legitimate craziness, there had been an awful lot of calculation going on over the past few months.
A reporter asked Brown if he had any regrets about anything he’s said or done over the course of the past year. Instead of actually answering that question, he found a way to praise himself while paying lip-service through coded barbs to his past team.
“To any kid out there in Pittsburgh, you know, Pittsburgh will always be my family. Those guys gave me a chance when I was a 21-year-old kid”, he said, dropping “kid” in there twice in rapid succession. “Obviously people listen to the things that are being said and written. But at the end of the day it’s all about how you make people feel. I think I made people feel really great and really inspired the way they watched me go to work, the way they watched me play.”
“I know Steeler Nation is having a bad day today, but it’s always love”, he added. “I encourage every kid who watched me work and been inspired by everything I’ve done and I hope I continue to be a good example, continue to be a good role model, and continue to inspire people the world over.”
The irony is that he later repeatedly referred to his new head coach, Jon Gruden, as a “guy”, and said that he’s like a father—which would imply that he is like a kid. “He’s a highly professional guy. Always makes sure you’re highly prepared. He covers every variable when he studies players”, he said of Gruden. “I’m just sitting with him and he’s focusing on 16 interceptions. He doesn’t want to talk about what you do well. He always wants to focus on the things that we could do that much more better”.
“And when you have a coach like that, it’s like your dad, you want to be around him because you know he’s not gonna build you up for what you’re doing, he’s gonna encourage you on how you always could get better”, he continued. “When you got a guy like that who’s always gonna help you improve and grow, that’s the type of guy you want to be around and he’s the type of guy you want to play for.”
General Manager Mike Mayock observed the same moment, and I hope you pick up on the irony of his own observation of the scene:
“I mean, Jon had 400 clips of Antonio in the office. I walked in this morning, the two of them were sitting in there like little kids watching 400 cut ups of Antonio. Everything he did, everything. I mean, they were like little kids in a laboratory and that’s why we’re so excited.”
Meanwhile, he was substantially late to his own press conference, a day after he tried to illegally work out with the Raiders before he was actually a member of the Raiders. So he had to work out with Derek Carr in a park—with the other kids, no doubt.