Antonio Brown gave a lengthy interview to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington recently in which he seemingly told the complete story from his perspective about the erosion of his business relationship with his current employer, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team that drafted him in the sixth round in 2010.
The interview spanned a wide variety of topics, including a lot about his early life, but it was the final week of the 2018 regular season that proved to be the defining moment. As you’ll recall, Brown was held out of the Steelers’ Week 17 game after he chose not to be in contact with the team following some disagreements during the week.
“Week 17, we’re coming off a big loss against the Saints. I’m sore, we’ve just been on the turf. I come and see the coach, I say ‘Coach’, I’m like, ‘yo, I’m sore, man. What are you thinking? I might need a couple days to get right’”, he said, referring to Head Coach Mike Tomlin.
“Coach was like, ‘man, you’re sore? Just go home if you’re sore’”, Brown continued. “’Go home? You want me to go home? Alright, [I’ll] go home’. It’s the last game of the year. I went home. So he still said, ‘you can’t play, go home’. So now everyone want to have a meeting, they want to talk, he want to invite me over to his house, but it’s like, ‘the biggest game of the season you’re saying go home because I’m sore?’”.
This paints the conversation in a different light than had been previously seen, even building off of his comments made in the airing of The Shop on HBO last night. As he told it to Jeff Darlington, he claims that Tomlin told him to go home, with the implication that either it’s not important that he be there or that if he can’t practice for such a big game with some soreness then he shouldn’t be there at all.
“That was like, the camel took his last straw after that”, he said. “it was like, if you guys are not serious about winning, why am I here? Then he wanted to invite me over to his house to watch the game. I got five kids. You think I got time to come to your house? Not even being personal, but just, on an honest opinion”.
Earlier in the interview, he talked about the fact that he felt the organization never really took the time to get to know him and where he came from, even going so far as to point out that president Art Rooney II had never been to his home before (how many owners have been to how many players’ houses?).
“It’s too late”, he said, of Tomlin’s invitation and of the salvageability of his relationship with the Steelers. Yet he continued to talk about it in business terms, denying that it’s personal. It’s hard to reconcile that claim with what he had to say above regarding Tomlin’s comments, if indeed that’s what the head coach said.