The Pittsburgh Steelers had one of the top offenses in the league during the mid-2010s, during which at certain points they sent around half or more of their starters to the Pro Bowl. There was one year in which Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, and Alejandro Villanueva were all invited to the game in 2017.
Those first three formed the ‘Killer B’s’, as they were known, representing among the best players at their respective positions—quarterback, running back, and wide receiver—in the game. Yet that would be the beginning of the end. Bell would sit out the 2018 season, and Brown would force his way off the team after it.
Both have had a schismatic relation with the organization since then, at times speaking very negatively, at others having positive things to say. But they have almost always had each other’s backs—often seeing themselves in a similar position, something he recently alluded to on the No Jumper podcast with Keekee and Josh.
“Me and AB, obviously it all looks a certain way, but AB’s cool as hell. I talk to him about whatever we want to talk about”, he said about his relationship with his former teammate. “He’s a guy really is kind of misunderstood. Yeah, he’ll have some moments, but overall, he’s obviously a great person, he’s a great father. He takes care of the things he needs to take care of, and he’s kind of like a misunderstood person”.
Brown has had numerous on-field and off-field incidents, the worst of which have come since leaving Pittsburgh. Among other things, he has been accused of sexual assault, and was suspended by the NFL. He has been released for non-football reasons three times since forcing the Steelers to trade him. While Bell hasn’t had so many incidents, he feels like he can relate to how his friend is perceived in the mainstream.
“Even like me, I feel like I’m also misunderstood in a lot of aspects. That’s why it’s like, ‘Damn, AB, I feel where you be comin’ from, bro’”, he told his hosts, “and I’ve been trying to talk to him since, like, ‘Bro, that’s why you can’t give ‘em no ammo at all, like, literally nothing’”.
“It’s the same thing he was telling me”, he added. “I’ll be like, ‘Damn, I be repeating the same thing he be telling me’. He’ll be telling me, ‘Bro, you gotta just play the game’. He’s always kind of giving me good advice. AB, he’s a great teammate. He’s one of them guys who I can talk to whenever about whatever”.
To his credit, either Bell hasn’t been saying a lot lately, or he hasn’t been paid much attention to, because truth be told, I haven’t heard his name in a while since he was cut by the Baltimore Ravens, where he spent part of the 2021 season, mostly on the practice squad, and only after they put three running backs on the Reserve/Injured List. But, again, like himself, his friend didn’t finish the season either. And he thinks he could have helped Brown then.
“Even with everything that happened on the sideline with Tampa, it was like, damn, I low-key wish I was in the game”, he said, “because I feel like I could’ve been one of them guys that actually did, like, ‘Alright, AB, bro, come on, bro’. Who actually like calm you down. I actually believe I could’ve”.
Both players are currently street free agents, meaning they do not have to wait until the start of the new league year to sign to any team. Both were released during the 2021 season. There has not been much discussion surrounding either, and really, it’s hard to imagine him being back in Tampa, whom he was considering suing a couple months ago.