Earlier in the week, Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin appeared on the air with Trey Wingo during which he referred to the departures of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell as sort of a “cleansing”. Understandably, the first time anybody had the opportunity to interview another member of the Steelers after that, the topic came up.
General Manager Kevin Colbert appeared on The Fan yesterday and he was asked about Tomlin’s remark. “You know what, I guess Coach was referencing, look, we’re moving forward with different people”, he said. “I never thought we’ve ever lost the character aspect and the importance of it”.
These remarks are more or less in line with what the organization has been saying all offseason, going back to Steelers President Art Rooney II shooting back at the characterization of the organization becoming a circus with the off-field headlines that arose surrounding certain players.
Those players were of course, the one with the most touchdowns and the one who didn’t even show up. Bell was a weekly point of discussion—and a source for questions from the media for the players in the locker room—on a regular basis until it reached the point that he wouldn’t be allowed to report even if he wanted to.
While I think there is a lot to be said about the idea that things aren’t really as bad as they might have seemed looking at the headlines, and how much of it was focused around a couple of individuals, the burden of having to deal with the shrapnel from those players’ drama was clearly tiresome, to some players more than others.
I think that is one of the reasons that Ramon Foster and Maurkice Pouncey spoke up a week or two ago in referencing former players opening their mouths about current Steelers situations. In that statement, he talked about players having to answer questions for people who aren’t even there. That in particular is what everyone would like to move past.
And that includes Colbert, who deflected further questions about Brown, ultimately settling on a stock answer. “We’ve moved past it”, he said. “We mutually reached a decision that it was best to both move on. We did that. And, again, as I mentioned, with the Devin Bush [pick], the ability to trade up was part of the getting those picks that we were able to get in the trade, and that’s where we like to leave it”.
Since the Steelers trade Brown to the Oakland Raiders, they re-signed Eli Rogers to a two-year contract in his second year removed from a torn ACL, they signed veteran Donte Moncrief in unrestricted free agency, and then used the third-round pick from the trade to draft Diontae Johnson out of Toledo.
With JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ryan Switzer rounding out the group, this is the cast of characters at the position that will be responsible for ensuring that the locker room remains ‘cleansed’.