I have to give a hat tip to Bob Labriola for this lovely piece of clickbait, because it’s a topic that he chose to address this morning in an Asked and Answered installment. A reader named Donald Adams (if you’re reading, hi) pointed out that an ‘ultimate highlights’ video for Ben Roethlisberger that the Pittsburgh Steelers from last season was conspicuously absent one player in particular, and I’m sure you can guess who.
Antonio Brown, of course. Over the span of three minutes, you can see Roethlisberger completing passes to James Washington and Ryan Switzer, among others, but not one of Brown’s 104 receptions, none of his 15 touchdowns, ‘made the cut’, so to speak.
But of course, as Labriola’s response (“Antonio who?”) hints, this wasn’t about things being left on the cutting room for. The team—whoever was responsible for putting the video together, and whether they were directed from above in any way—deliberately chose to exclude any highlights of Brown from the video.
And it’s not as though Brown didn’t make some fantastic plays last season. He had a game-winning, walk-off touchdown in Week Six against the Cincinnati Bengals, for example, that was certainly more compelling, even on the quarterback’s part, than some of the highlights featured.
Brown has been a massive part of Roethlisberger’s career and of the Steelers’ history over the course of the past nine seasons, but of course, he chose to end his relationship with the organization on fantastically bad terms. While they’ve all put a good public face on it, this small non-recognition of his prior contributions is a manifestation of the feelings without the organization of how Brown forced his way out.
And I’m not writing this to condemn them for it. I’m not praising them for it, either. I don’t think it’s really necessarily a positive or a negative thing, though one thing it decidedly is not is an ultimate highlight reel, because at least a few of Brown’s catches would have made the cut without question.
Roethlisberger and Brown had unparalleled statistical success over the course of the past six seasons, hooking up for more catches and more receiving yards in that span than any duo ever has, and he has also averaged double-digit touchdowns every year within that window as well.
There is no accurate way to write the story of any of the Steelers’ recent seasons from the better part of the past decade without featuring Brown heavily, but this is what the aftermath of the ugly end of a meaningful relationship looks like.
He could have been worshipped and revered for literally generations in Pittsburgh. In time, his standing with the city will improve, maybe by the time he gets in to the Hall of Fame. But it will never be again what it could and should have been, and that’s on him. Frankly, I don’t even know how he feels about that.