The season is snowballing quickly down the Duquesne Incline for the Pittsburgh Steelers as star receiver Antonio Brown took the latest push with his absence from the facility and “trade me” tweet Monday, then passionate “we suck” remarks to the media Thursday.
That’s only a smidgen of the drama in Pittsburgh these days, so with retired Steelers icon Hines Ward on “The Zach Gelb Show” on CBS Sports Radio Saturday morning it was imminent Gelb would ask the likely future Hall of Famer’s opinion.
Hines ‘a little embarrassed’
Ward’s playing days overlapped with Brown’s for a few years, and he has sounded off on the young receiver before. He’s specifically done so about his social media usage, which Gelb gets to later in the 20-minute interview.
During media interviews Thursday, Brown told reporters it was “unacceptable” the Steelers hadn’t won a game yet, adding he was “pissed off. We’re losing. We suck.”
“[I’m] a little embarrassed in the sense that that’s not the Steelers culture,” Ward said of his reaction to Brown’s week. “We’re not really big on kind of having off the field issues with a lot of different guys.”
Hines said he understood Brown is a passionate guy and wants to win, but feels he’s “wrong for the outburst.”
“When things aren’t going good, a lot of people look at your leaders on the team — the players, the guys who are doing it [the leading] — and they want to see how you respond to adversity. So it’s something that I wouldn’t have done.
“I get it. You’re frustrated. You want to win. But the same time having an outburst like that doesn’t do anybody any justice.”
Ward on social media and head coach Mike Tomlin
Ward played the bulk of his career before social media was an ever-present reality and he has spoken out against Brown’s use of Facebook Live in the locker room before.
“I get it from Antonio. He’s fun, he’s energetic, he wants a connection with his fans,” Ward said. “But like I say, there’s a time and a place for everything. I just want him to just, I would like for him to just focus on football. Find a way to get this thing back on track in Pittsburgh. Like I say, it’s all about winning football games. That should be the main priority in all these players careers.”
The Steelers (0-1-1) will go for their first win on Monday night at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Head coach Mike Tomlin has taken the heat in recent years for the Steelers drama, including running back Le’Veon Bell’s holdout. Ward said he didn’t think it really fell on Tomlin, but more the leaders on the team. That includes his surprise that offensive linemen spoke out against Bell — a violation of an unwritten rule — in the lead-up to “Cleveland’s Super Bowl” in Week 1.
“It’s a matter of focusing and getting back to winning ball games because the Steelers have too much talent to be where they are right now,” Ward said.
Ward’s new job: AAF Executive
Ward spent the first half of his spot on the show talking about the Alliance of American Football (AAF), for which he’s a player relations executive. The league is looking to keep games shorter and more affordable for families while also creating an instant connection to players by placing them in cities near where they played college ball.
“Fans are yearning for football all season long, so we’re trying to provide that and give them that during the spring,” he said.
And one more fun Hines Ward tidbit
Gelb asked Ward, a two-time Super Bowl winner and Super Bowl MVP with 85 career touchdowns, about his stint on Dancing with the Stars in 2011.
“I didn’t even go to my high school prom, so I had no idea I could be twinkle toes out on the dance floor,” he said.
Ward won the Mirror Ball trophy and said the experience “changed his life.”
“I’m probably more recognized for Dancing with the Stars than the 14 years I played for the Pittsburgh Steelers,” he said. “How crazy is that.”
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