2022 Offseason Questions: Does Antonio Brown ‘Deserve’ To Retire A Steeler?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.

This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.

Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.

These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Does Antonio Brown ‘deserve’ to retire as a member of the Steelers?

The Steelers in many ways repeatedly bent over backwards to appease wide receiver Antonio Brown during his tenure with the organization, which drafted him in the sixth round all the way back in 2010. He developed into one of the best receivers in the game, yet his concerning behavior has left him a toxic commodity that has seen him released three times since forcing his way off Pittsburgh’s roster via trade in 2018.

Brown eventually resurfaced under his former offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, earning a Super Bowl ring in 2020 with Tom Brady at quarterback. He showed that year that he still had the talent to play at a high level. He showed last year that he doesn’t have the maturity to, however, and he ended up being fired in-game in a remarkable moment.

Still unsigned, Brown Tweeted yesterday that he wants to retire as a Steeler, though he made clear that he wasn’t looking for a job with the Steelers—just stating that, whenever he retires, he wanted to do so where he started, on a one-day contract sort of deal.

Pittsburgh has accommodated some former players in the past with such a request, including Santonio Holmes, another former wide receiver whom they traded in part because of his behavior—but also because they weren’t going to pay him the year after.

Given his dueling legacies on and off the field, does Antonio Brown ‘deserve’ the retire as a member of the Steelers, assuming that that is his genuine wish? There isn’t an objective answer to that question, and I imagine there will be a variety of opinions. But I think I can guess what the Steelers’ opinion is. At least if he plans to retire any time soon.

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