It’s yet to be seen if wide receiver Antonio Brown will ever play another down in the NFL. After all that the former Pittsburgh Steelers has done and said this past 14 months both on and off the field, it’s hard to imagine that another team will ever give him a chance that includes paying him a lot of money. Brown, however, appears to be trying to clear a path for his return to the NFL by conducting several media interviews the past few weeks and included in those are him apologizing to a lot of people and attempting to explain his side of the story when it comes to several things that have happened over the course of the last 14 months.
On Thursday, Brown agreed to do an interview with 93.7 The Fan and one of the first things he did is offer up a wide apology to the team he started his career with and several people he played for and with in Pittsburgh.
“I really apologize to those guys for the distractions, the unwanted attention that I probably caused those guys,” Brown said. To the name, to the organization. So, obviously you want to clear out any baggage or any disrespect or unintended attention that was brought on to the organization. These guys gave me an opportunity when I was 21 years old and I’m forever grateful for those guys to have the opportunities to not only to play with those guys, but to be in so many amazing moments and we’ve been through so much.
“So, I’m forever grateful and indebted to the Steelers organization, Mr. Rooney, Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, Ben Roethlisberger. You know, I started my career with those guys. A lot of beautiful moments, a lot of positive things. So, it’s not all bad. I just think from an emotional standpoint when stuff got bad, it just seemed bad. But we had a lot of good moments than bad.”
Brown’s trials and tribulations and all the things that ultimately led to him being jettisoned out of Pittsburgh per his own wishes started way back during the final week of the 2018 season. On Thursday, Brown was asked to recap all that happened during Week 17 of the 2018 season that went on to escalate to him asking for a trade from the Steelers and ultimately having that demand met this past March.
“Well, for so long, man, when you play football, you bottle up so many emotions, man,” Brown said. “You carry those emotions for years and years and years and years. And it just got to the point where I was like, man, I want to have more respect, I want to continue to live with my heart happy and not really being a person not as happy. So, for me, you know, the last game I had some adversity, but it was just time to move on and do something more positive. I just was emotionally drained and just frustrated by how everything went down. I think a lot of stuff goes down and people don’t know what really happened. You know, people just write about it and make assumptions, but people don’t know the truth for what the emotions or what players really go through.”
Brown was then asked to explain why he felt he wasn’t respected 14 months ago even though he was regarded nearly unanimously as the best player in the NFL at that time.
“I feel like I got respect, you know, I don’t think it was me not getting respect,” Brown attempted to explain. “I think everyone respected me and my craft and what I went about and what I did. I just think at the time, what was important for me was winning a Super Bowl and the team and God and what we wanted to do. I just think we had a lot of things that was important to individuals, but it wasn’t really important to do the big thing, which was win the Super Bowl. So, for me, you know, I’m getting to the point where I’m older in my career and the things that was important to me is winning.”
Brown when on to talk some about the challenges he faces always being in the spotlight as a high-profile celebrity and how there are always people around him looking to gain off his success at his expense. Later in the interview, Brown was asked about his seemingly ongoing beef with his former Steelers teammate, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. To hear Brown’s side of the story his beef with Smith-Schuster mainly started back in March after Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders. After that deal happened, Smith-Schuster posted a picture on his social media accounts of him catching a touchdown against the Raiders while Brown looks on in the background. (see below)
“I never said anything about JuJu,” Brown said Thursday. “Just that problem is, when you’re Antonio Brown and you become this big guy in this big spot, it’s like, if someone comes at me negative, I can’t even come back at him. JuJu Smith-Schuster was a young guy who sent me DMs when he was in college, said how much he looked up to me, said how much he wanted to work with me. And then you get a chance to work with me, you have your best season ever, I’m about to leave and you posted a picture of me, you scoring a touchdown on a team that I’m going to saying you’re ready. You know, that’s a form of disrespect. You know what I mean?
Brown had a lot more to say about Smith-Schuster and former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward as well.
“When Mike Wallace was supposed to get the deal in 2012 and Antonio Brown got the deal, now I’m not even saying that JuJu Smith-Schuster situation was even of that nature, we’re talking about a young guy who came into the league who looked up to Antonio Brown wanting to be the next Antonio Brown,” Brown said. “And these guys started to see what Antonio Brown was like and then they want to be Antonio Brown, you know? Being me comes with some type of substance and some type of envy. People want to be the guy who makes the big plays, the guy who gets the sack.
“So, you see a guy like JuJu, a guy who you took under your wing, who you showed so much respect. Even from, you know, guys like Hines Ward when I used to play. Hines Ward didn’t show me the respect I needed or gave me the positivity or the support I needed. I’d never been to his house. I never studied plays with him, I never went over how to win and get open and how to do this right or how to do this. I gave the guy JuJu Smith-Schuster all the positive cheat codes, all the stuff to be successful and to watch a guy call me out when I’m moving forward for positive, that helped him move forward for positive … I just think, man, people got to show more respect and be more considerate to others.”
At the end of Brown’s diatribe about Smith-Schuster and Ward basically both disrespecting him, the former Steelers wide receiver essential claimed that he’s over all of that even though he did take a shot at the receiving yards posted by the former in 2019.
“Whatever I do is going to be magnified times. So, there’s no beef. I don’t have nothing against JuJu Smith-Schuster. Why would I? I’m the one who he wants to be. I’m in the position that he’s striving to be in. So, the only thing I want to do is encourage people and show people it’s all about respect to me.”
“You want to call A.B. out, you better set your standards high like A.B. because if they’re not, someone needs to tell them. And I think that’s the problem with the culture these days. These young kids that have no one to tell them the truth. JuJu Smith-Schuster running around here [last season] with 500 yards and everyone’s thinking like he’s the world. The Steelers didn’t make the playoffs. That is a problem. But here we go back to Instagram. Everyone wanted to be cool and no one, no respect. Everyone’s just clout chasing and mentions someone’s name to get on. So, me, I’m just here to explain and give you real examples and give people the mentality of Antonio Brown because it just seems like I’m always painted as the negative guy. I don’t know why people put me in a box all the time.”
Brown went in to bash Smith-Schuster more after being asked to explain why he’s been in so much trouble with the law over the years, his recent obscenity-laced tirade at the Hollywood police that he filmed and him getting ticketed for speeding 100 miles per hour ahead of the Steelers Thursday night game against the Carolina Panthers back in 2018.
:”I’m always the person painted and put it in the wrong light based off the position I’m in,” Brown said. “So, that’s what I’m saying. So, let’s be fair. Let’s treat everyone fairly. Didn’t you guys just have JuJu Smith-Schuster in the car doing a hundred miles per hour? Did you guys pull him over? No. He put it on video. Did anything happen? No, but when Antonio Brown is in that position, it’s all over the news. I don’t have no disrespect for police. I apologized to the police for my emotional reaction.”
Brown was eventually asked about his falling-out with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and if ever went to him and asked him about any perceived problem the two had with each other.
“Yeah, of course, of course, Brown said
Brown was then asked to reveal what Roethlisberger’s reaction to that conversation the two had was.
“I just think, man, over the course of time, a lot of stuff had just built up,” Brown said. “So, our last meeting was the last day from the last week I had in 2018 and I met with him and he was trying to explain to me, like, A.B., everyone doesn’t hate me. I just think Ben is really nonchalant. So, what people think about him, people are really talking to him behind the back. They won’t really share to him in his face. So, a lot of people who deal with Ben are not dealing with him out of the reality of what it is. And a lot of people are really nervous to tell him what it really is because based on the position he’s in.
“So, a guy like me, we had a real heart to heart hash it out, but I just think too much stuff built up that it was too late. Do I hate Ben? No. Do I love Ben? Yes. Ben’s a great guy, a great person, great quarterback and all that. All the disappointment and frustration we had could have been stopped. But when a guy’s ego and emotions get involved, a lot of stuff goes different ways. Plus, he had JuJu Smith-Schuster. I guess, you know, that works better for him.”
The Thursday interview with Brown was really all over the place. The former Steele wide receiver admitted that he’s seeing a therapist and trying to surround himself with more people who really care about him and not take advantage of him. It seems like Brown thinks that nobody understands his side of things and why he reacts the way he does sometimes. He also comes off now as a person who feels disrespected by most everyone. Is he becoming less angry over the recent weeks? Is he in a good place from a mental health standpoint right now?
“I’m pretty good man,” Brown said Thursday. “I think those guys put me in a crazy jacket. I don’t know why they did that, but I just think, man, mental health is really important. You know, it’s really difficult for me when I can’t even go out in public. Everyone’s coming up to me putting their camera phone [in my face], everyone’s got an agenda for what they want to get from me, or what they can make off me. So, you know, it’s good to be around people and talk to people that don’t have no agenda and that could just support your mental health and listen to you. You know, it’s not about the material things, the money. People need support. Support and love. Meaning someone that could call, people that can listen to and people that can give them the right encouragement without no feedback of self in there.”
So, what’s next for Brown?
“I don’t know, man. I don’t know what I want to do right now. I’m just taking it one day at a time, Brown said Thursday.
While Brown doesn’t seem overly sure if he’ll ever play again in the NFL, later in his interview he made it sound like his goal is to so.
“Everyone loves comeback stories,” Brown said. “I’m in shape. 2020 is going to be a great year and it’s a great opportunity to bounce back.”
While there’s no way in hell that Brown will ever return to the Steelers, the team’s former wide receiver indicated that he misses the city of Pittsburgh just the same.
“I missed the Burg man. Hopefully I can come back and get it going,” Brown said.