Antonio Brown

USA Today

Dysfunction In The Steel City

Never mind the Super Bowl, their entire season could be over by Sunday night.

September 19, 2018 - 9:36 am

Antonio Brown arrived at the Steelers facility today. Normally, a guy showing up to the office on a Wednesday is not really a big deal, but the way things are going with Antonio Brown and the Steelers right now, that’s actually a thing. 

And it’s actually a thing, because he actually seemed pretty irritated with the coaches on the sideline during Sunday’s loss. And then it became even more a thing when he didn’t show at the facility Monday for meetings and film review. And it became an even bigger thing

When Mike Tomlin was asked about it yesterday and said, “We will talk about it and other things. I’m not going to get into whether he was excused or not.” 

When someone says I’m not going to get into whether it was excused or not, go and ahead and assume it WASN’T excused.  Because if it was, the coach would have said it was. But he didn’t. 

And then there was the former Steelers employee who tweeted that Brown wouldn’t be the same player if he played without Ben Roethlisberger, to which Brown responded “trade me and find out.”

And the only thing as bad as not showing up for work, is hooked badly on twitter by a team staffer. And both those things happened to the Steelers best player. All in all, a helluva a couple days for Antonio Brown and the Steelers.

Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN that "The tweet yesterday was not in reference to anything other than Antonio responding to a person he knows. It was not directed towards a trade, or wanting to be trading. Any idea he was asking for a trade is not accurate. Antonio had a personal matter. I talked to the team about it. His issue was unrelated to the tweet or his relationship with the team. Third, AB has an incredible drive to win. He just wants to win. That's all that that is. That's not anything more than him encouraging his coaches and teammates to win. And that's what his entire focus is on. Any notion, any speculation otherwise, can be put to bed. This is a non-story that has been blown out of proportion. We can end this right here and now."

The “trade me” tweet is a total non-story. Don’t get me a wrong, Brown getting hooked by someone like that, and tweeting something like is a bad look. Now every egg in the world, with too much time on their hands and nothing better to do will be coming for Brown, looking to get him to react. That said, it doesn’t mean the guy really wants to be traded. You have to work pretty hard to convince yourself that responding to a former Steelers employee and telling him to “trade me and find out” is Brown’s way of actually demanding a trade. And no, him showing up for work one day, doesn’t mean you go all Jon Gruden on his ass and say, he doesn’t want to be here and ship his ass to Chicago like Gruden did Khalil Mack.  Btw, great move, CHUNKY. Again, the Raiders are 0-2 and Gruden is 0-4 because every game Mack has is another loss for Chunky. 

But back to the Steelers. You could say this is just Antonio Brown doing Antonio Brown things. And to a certain extent, you’d be right. But there is a larger deal here and that’s the fact that the Steelers are 0-1-1 and they haven’t looked this bad on and off the field in years. They tied the Browns in the opener and then got absolutely torched by Patrick Mahomes in Week 2, also a terrible look for Mike Tomlin because defense is supposed to be his specialty.

And they look even worse off the field where Le’Veon Bell is hitting the clubs in south beach, Brown is skipping out on work and most of the offensive line was doing the one thing every single player knows not to do: talk about another man’s money.  Underachieving on the field, imploding off it and it’s all going on under the watch of Mike Tomlin. When Tomlin promised quote straight fire when he joined twitter, I don’t think he meant he was going to light the building on fire. But it’s a blaze right now!

I mean, what the hell kind of a world are we living in right now where one of the most stable franchises in all of sports is suddenly one of the most dysfunctional… where the Steelers are tied for last in the division, players are no-showing, their defense can’t get the hell off the field, and players are taking shots at each other? It’s weird. And it’s real.  Real bad. And if they don’t wake the hell up, and I mean right this second, never mind the Super Bowl, their entire season could be over by Sunday night. 

So how did this even happen? How did it even come to be? While I’m not going to put it all on Tomlin, that’s a pretty damn good place to start. But don’t take my word for it, take it from an anonymous NFC South assistant who told Bleacher Report: "It's a circus there and Mike has no control over it. He's one of the best coaches of my generation, but the players have too much control there."

Look, I’m not in that locker room, so I can’t sit here in California and say he’s lost control of the locker room. But I know this: being a player’s coach is fine, right up until the moment the players take over. And start taking advantage. And stop respecting the coach the way they had in the past. And judging from what these guys are saying and doing, that would appear to be the case. Either or some asst. coach has an ax to grind with Tomlin and is looking for a chance to pile on. You decide.

I’m not saying this is all Tomlin’s fault. Far from it. You can’t blame Tomlin for Le’Veon Bell. It’s not Tomlin’s job to negotiate contracts and get players to camp. And AB is gonna AB. We know that too. But the fact is, it’s all hitting the fan now. This team still has talent, still has upside, still has a shot; and anyone can turn it around it’s Tomlin.  But he better do it and he better do it right now. Because when you start 0-1-1, its gets late early. And when you start 0-2-1, it’s probably already too late. Coach em the hell up Mike, because while you’ll never say it, you have to know you’re coaching for your entire season Monday night.