Former teammate Ryan Clark says Antonio Brown has 'done a good job of tricking people'

Yahoo Sports Contributor
Shutdown Corner

Not everyone is happy with Antonio Brown these days.

On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers receiver raised eyebrows when he flung a Gatorade cooler on the sideline after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not see that he was wide open on a third-down play.

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Two days later, Roethlisberger told a Pittsburgh radio station that it was “unfortunate” that Brown “threw a temper tantrum.”

And now a former teammate of both players, retired safety Ryan Clark, has indicated that Brown’s public persona and private demeanor are vastly different.

Stretching for the end zone: Steelers WR Antonio Brown tries to score vs. the Bears. (AP)
Stretching for the end zone: Steelers WR Antonio Brown tries to score vs. the Bears. (AP)

Appearing on ESPN Radio, Clark said he agreed with Roethlisberger’s notion that Brown would have been better served talking to the quarterback rather than lashing out:

“Antonio has done an extremely good job of tricking people,” Clark said. “He has that smile and when he talks he seems extremely ‘team’, [and has other believing] oh this is a great team guy, he always shows up to play, he didn’t hold out last year to get his money, so he’s done a very good spin job of having us think or making people think who don’t know him that it’s all about the Pittsburgh Steelers, I’m just a hard worker who is here to win football games.

“Nah, Antonio Brown loves Antonio Brown. And Antonio Brown was upset, God forbid, that a guy that (averages) over 10 targets in the first three games of the season is missed one time. He behaved … if Odell Beckham Jr. does this, it’s on every station. It’s on every single show. And for me, I think it’s actually different than any of Odell’s outbursts. Everything Odell does, to me, is an implosion. He was just going nuts because he couldn’t figure out any other way to better express himself. He wasn’t going at coaches, he wasn’t arguing about not getting the ball, he wanted to win games and he wanted to be a part of winning games.

“This is, you miss me one time on a play I could have scored a touchdown, that would have helped me. Not would have helped the team, it would have helped me. God forbid you check the ball down to Le’Veon Bell. Oh my goodness, that’s the worst thing in the world, Lev might get the ball, I can’t take it, I’m gonna pass out. You can’t behave that way because the quarterback came off his read a little early and you were wide open. This is who he is. I said that was who he was last year when it came to the phone thing.”

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“The phone thing” is when Brown came under fire earlier this year when he live-streamed the Steelers’ postgame locker room scene after a playoff win on Facebook (he had a contract with the social media site to promote its Live service).

When host Ryen Russillo noted Clark was giving the impression that he doesn’t like Brown, Clark said he doesn’t dislike Brown and has no issue with him; the two were teammates for Brown’s first four seasons in the NFL, 2010-13.

In acknowledging that Brown is selfish, Clark made an interesting observation, in that Brown has long had to look out for himself, and that may still color his behavior now.

“If you listen to people talk about him, if you listen to the media, a lot of times the fans, they have an adoration for him that is not necessarily a depiction of who he is. He’s like most receivers – he’s selfish,” Clark said. “You can see from last year in the locker room, he’s also self-centered. And I can actually say, I don’t think it’s malicious and mean-spirited though. I think that’s just who he is. If you listen to his story, this is a kid that would pay $20 to sleep in a hotel because he had nowhere to live, and so I think all he’s ever known is, ‘Tone has to get it, Tone has to get it.’ And when something like this happens that affects him, he didn’t care that he didn’t score a touchdown for the team, it affected him, so he had an issue with it.”

But, Clark added, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and the rest of Brown’s teammates are used to it at this point, so “nobody cares” in the locker room.

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