Pittsburgh is the city of bridges, and soon-to-be former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has spent much of the past two months burning many of them down. He seemingly went on a scorched Earth campaign to make his further employment with the team untenable, thereby forcing the team to find a trading partner for him that would give him what he wants.
On his way out the door, as he was still putting the pressure on the organization to trade him, he bandied about criticisms of Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and even Art Rooney II, with broader implications for others as well, implying that the Steelers were not nearly as ‘family-oriented’ as they seem and that he did not feel respected.
“Things fell apart with the Steelers and everyone agreed that it would be best to move on. He was able to do that and land with a new team that has a great attraction”, his agent Drew Rosenhaus told Rich Eisen yesterday, “and now he is once against the highest-paid wide receiver in the National Football League. We were when we did his last contract two years ago, and this thing couldn’t have worked out better for us on all levels”.
Pittsburgh settled for a third- and fifth-round-pick haul in compensation for Brown, and the wide receiver got a handsome pay raise that elevates his total earnings over the life of his current contract to just under $20 million per season, with $30 million of the roughly $50 million he is now still owed in the form of guarantees.
He got what he wanted. I guess the Raiders have gotten what they wanted, but they’ll find out soon enough. The Steelers remain on the short end of the stick. They got rid of a headache and are hoping that the move will be addition through subtraction, but parting with an All-Pro will have an inevitable drawback.
Still, while he has pretty much spent his long exit from Pittsburgh essentially knocking over vases and plants on his way out the door, Rosenhaus argued that his potentially bad public image in the city will not endure. “He’ll always love the fans in Pittsburgh. And I’m sure that there will be a mending of the fences at some point later in Antonio’s career with the Steelers and the people involved”, he said.
If that ends up being the case, it will take time. Things don’t always work out that way. Others who have had difficult exits from the team have stayed away. Does anybody in Pittsburgh care about Mike Merriweather, the last player to force a trade?
Brown is inarguably one of the greatest players to ever put on a Steelers uniform and will end up in the Hall of Fame when all is said and done. He will likely have spent the bulk of his career in Pittsburgh and will probably be primarily be associated with the Steelers more than the Raiders or any other team. But I think it’s too early to predict any kind of reconciliation with the fans and the city. The same goes for Le’Veon Bell and James Harrison.