Saying that it’s been a weird week for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown would be an understatement. He didn’t play in the Steelers’ season finale on Sunday due to what was initially reported to be a knee issue. But it came out on Monday that Brown had been benched by coach Mike Tomlin due to skipped practices during the week.
We don’t know why Brown skipped those practices. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Brown clashed with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during a Wednesday walkthrough. But Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported that the naming of the Steelers’ team MVP earlier that day may have set him off.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, not Antonio Brown, named team MVP
After the Steelers’ Week 16 loss to the New Orleans Saints, JuJu Smith-Schuster was voted as team MVP for the 2018 season by his teammates. According to Breer, Brown felt his teammates had snubbed him by not voting him MVP, and he took that personally. Those feelings stayed with him during the week, which is what led to his fight with Roethlisberger and the subsequent skipped practices.
One Steelers source spoke to Breer about the incident.
“He was just frustrated,” said one source. “The MVP vote — it’s those things that set him off. He was unreal in New Orleans, we still lost, and the vote comes out and it’s JuJu. So he shows up for work, he’s not voted MVP, he’s in a bad way, and that carried over into the walkthrough.”
Looking at Brown’s performance in New Orleans alone, you can see why he was upset. He was a standout in that game, racking up 185 yards, 14 catches and two touchdowns. But looking at the season as a whole, it’s a little more difficult to call Brown the definitive MVP. On the season he has 129 fewer receiving yards than Smith-Schuster, but eight more touchdowns. And Smith-Schuster’s friendly, outgoing attitude could have played a part.
Regardless of why Smith-Schuster was voted team MVP, Brown was reportedly “bitter” about it. And that apparently led to the walkthrough fight, the skipped practices, and the eventual Week 17 benching.
What else has Antonio Brown been up to?
Brown’s been up to plenty! While Tomlin was on the mic doing his end-of-season press conference on Wednesday — answering quite a lot of questions about the Brown situation — he tweeted this.
Brown then called his former teammate Ryan Clark “Uncle Tom” in the comments of an Instagram post. The post featured video of Clark being critical of Brown’s recent behavior on SportsCenter.
That all happened on Wednesday, and Brown still wasn’t done. By the end of the night, he had pulled off a giant hippo mask on national TV (after performing Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative”), revealing himself to be the first eliminated contestant on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.” No, really. That actually happened.
— The Masked Singer (@MaskedSingerFOX) January 3, 2019
Is there a way Brown can top his head popping out of a massive hippo mask? It’s a long offseason, so he’ll have plenty of time to try.
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