Tired of talking about Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell? Guess who also is: Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II.
Rooney briefly spoke to reporters yesterday ahead of the annual league meeting in which he discussed a diversity of topics, chiefly regarding the slate of rule change proposals that will be considered next week. Understandably, however, the names of two of his most prominent recent former players came up during the discussion.
And when they were brought up, he didn’t have much to say. “We’re excited about the players we have, and going to have, in the building and looking forward to getting started on the 2019 season”, is what he shared with the gathered media, per Gerry Dulac and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, among other outlets.
Both players either directly or indirectly forced their way out of Pittsburgh over the course of the past two seasons, with Brown’s departure being particularly acrimonious, but both exits involved some very childish behavior, particularly in their giving the organization the ‘silent treatment’.
Brown’s frustrations boiled over, allegedly, following a confrontation in the week leading up to the season finale. He held himself out of practice for the week, citing a sore knee that he refused to get an MRI on, and during the weekend went incommunicado, which prompted Mike Tomlin to bench him because, as he said, he did not know his injury status.
This led to an escalating series of events before the Steelers relinquished and traded him to the Oakland Raiders for third- and fifth-round draft picks. Arguably the most egregious was his having dyed his mustache blonde.
As for Bell, he for some reason felt it necessary to add some parting shots during an interview with Sports Illustrated after he saw Brown use an interview of his own with ESPN to help him get his way. The difference being that Bell had been a free agent and, in fact, already signed a new contract.
The former Steelers running back went so far as to say that the team didn’t treat players like they were human, but he later tried to walk that comment back by saying he was talking about the city of Pittsburgh and the team’s fans—which is not better, and may in fact be worse. Especially if he thinks the New York Jets’ fanbase and media will be kinder and gentler.
I must say that I got a strong sense of satisfaction to read Rooney’s non-plussed response to a question about these two malcontents who felt the need to slander the organization. There is nothing to be gained from their being further dissected by the Rooneys, by Tomlin, by Kevin Colbert, or by anybody else in the organization.
Everybody affiliated with the Steelers is sending the message that they are ready to move on from the Killer Bs era and start something new, something less contentious. Rooney’s deflective answer is the clearest signal yet of that fact.