We’re starting to think “The Young and the Restless” has nothing on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Midday Wednesday, as coach Mike Tomlin was at the podium for his season-ending news conference, star receiver Antonio Brown was posting to social media — basically the only way Brown communicates with the outside world.
And all of it led to more questions about what the heck is going on in Pittsburgh.
Let’s unpack, shall we?
Brown: ‘My options may seem limited’
His Steelers coaches and teammates haven’t heard from Brown in days, but he posted on his Twitter and Instagram accounts on Wednesday.
Next to a black-and-white photo of himself in profile, smiling, Brown had a quote:
“My options may seem limited by people or circumstances. It is then that I remind myself I am in command of my attitude.
“I am divinely blessed with free will. I utilize that gift, choosing to take charge of my life; to express the creativity, vitality, and wholeness that truly define me.”
He captioned it, “Happy New Year. Be great.”
Is this a mantra for himself? To inspire readers/followers? Some kind of message about his future in Pittsburgh? We’re not expecting an answer from Brown anytime soon.
How the most recent Antonio Brown drama began
It’s a little murky as to what exactly happened over the past seven days or so. There are multiple reports that Brown and Ben Roethlisberger had some kind of dispute during last Wednesday’s practice walkthrough. But Roethlisberger feigned ignorance during a Pittsburgh radio appearance on Tuesday.
Brown then said he had some knee soreness, and didn’t practice on Thursday. On Friday, Tomlin sent him for an MRI, which Brown didn’t do.
By Saturday, Brown was essentially AWOL, not present for the final walkthrough before the Steelers’ must-win game against the Cincinnati Bengals the next day, nor was he at the team hotel for a team meeting Saturday night.
He showed up to Heinz Stadium on Sunday to play, but was benched, left the stadium long before the game was over, and by all accounts hasn’t spoken to anyone associated with the team since.
Tomlin: ‘It became difficult to communicate’
Tomlin’s question-and-answer session on Wednesday was heavily focused on Brown, which makes sense, since it’s not every day an All-Pro receiver abandons his team a couple of days before the biggest game of the season.
Tomlin was about as frank as he gets when discussing the events of the last several days, revealing that “it became difficult to communicate” with Brown on Friday and Saturday, and that Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, called him on Sunday morning to say that Brown felt good enough to play that day.
“I outlined to Drew we don’t operate like that,” Tomlin said. “Playing wasn’t on the menu.”
When Tomlin finally spoke to Brown during pregame warmups, “I said the best thing he can do is be there and support his teammates,” Tomlin said. “That was the last conversation he and I had. I hear he left the stadium.”
Brown reportedly left at halftime.
Tomlin also confirmed that Brown skipped the end-of-season team meeting on Monday.
If Brown remains in Pittsburgh, he can expect to be disciplined by the team.
“We take his lack of communication and lack of presence on Saturday as something to be very significant,” Tomlin said. “I’m not going to speculate on trades and things of that nature. I’m not going to speculate where discipline might go. Just know it will be addressed and needs to be addressed.”
As to the report that Brown requested a trade, Tomlin said that hasn’t happened. Not for nothing, but you can’t request anything if you’re not talking to anyone in the franchise.
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