Antonio Brown

USA Today

Pace Yourself, AB

Learn from the drama masters, the guys like Brett Favre.

January 03, 2019 - 9:32 am

The Pittsburgh Steelers season ended on Sunday. Their next regular season game will be eight months from in September. And four days into their offseason, it is wilder than anything that ever happened in the regular season.

Yesterday, I recapped everything that happened in the week that led up to Antonio Brown not playing in a must-win Week 17 game. Now I feel like I have to recap everything that’s happened since yesterday. Because it was a lot.

There was Cam Heyward going on WDVE and saying that “We all want AB here, but to be a part of this team you can’t do that. You don’t let your brothers down. It hurt more knowing that there were multiple people in that locker room giving everything they’ve got. … I think everybody wants AB on the team, but we’ve got to be on the same page. From the top to the bottom we all have to be accountable for it. I’m sure [General Manager] Kevin [Colbert], Coach [Mike] Tomlin will be talking to him. Going forward that’s unacceptable. We all sign up for this game and we all sign up to be part of this team.”

Translation: AB’s not doing his job.  And I’m not having it. And I’m sure Cam’s not the only who sees it that way in that locker room. 

There was Mike Tomlin’s press conference, where he was asked about Antonio Brown and said this: “We take his lack of communication and lack of presence on Saturday as something to be very significant. 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.”

Tomlin was asked if Brown quit on his teammates and said call it what you want.

Listen, calling an athlete, any athlete, much less one as great as Antonio Brown, a quitter, is about the worst thing you can say about an athlete. But it’s fair to ask the question? In this instance, did he quit on his teammates? If he wasn’t hurt, and he wasn’t available for a must win game with playoff implications; did he quit on his teammates? And don’t tell me he showed up the day of the game ready to play. Mike Tomlin didn’t let him play because he couldn’t play; and it was the right move. And that’s on A.B.; not Tomlin. 

He didn’t play because he stopped going to practices.  And meetings. Initially the team said he was hurt. 

Mike Tomlin said in his presser that Brown said he has knee, ankle and foot soreness.  Tomlin asked him to get an MRI. Brown didn’t do it. If he was really was hurt, and doing everything he could to prepare for the week 17 matchup, why didn’t get the get MRI?  Why did he skip meetings and practices. That doesn’t sound like a guy who is hurt. Butthurt, maybe. But injured? Not so much. And there’s obviously a difference between being injured and being butthurt. I’ve never seen a team list a player was butthurt on a weekly injury report. Some of his teammates reportedly do not believe he was hurt). 

So if he’s not hurt and he’s not playing, did he quit on his teammates? Mike Tomlin wasn’t willing to go that far. But then again he didn’t have to. 

Then there was Antonio Brown tweeting during that press conference. It was a tweet that had the caption: Happy New Year. Be great. And a pic of himself with a further 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.”

Antonio Brown tweeting a pic of Antonio Brown and treating it like it’s a quote from Antonio Brown is the most Antonio Brown thing ever. 

But that wasn’t even the most Antonio Brown thing of yesterday. Because that was followed up by James Harrison going on Instagram with Antonio Brown to claim that they were going to do an exclusive sit-down. Forget Barbara Walters, Steve Kroft, or Scott Pelley, or my guy James Brown. Antonio Brown is going with James Harrison.

Until he didn’t. They apparently watched or listened to Tomlin’s press conference together, but the bombshell interview that was teased never materialized and Harrison went back to posting videos of himself doing heel elevated back squats, about a thousand reps at about a thousand pounds. 

But that wasn’t the end of yesterday. That was barely mid-afternoon of yesterday. There was still time for A.B. to squeeze in a lot more. Like jumping into the Instagram comments of an ESPN post to call former teammate Ryan Clark an “Uncle Tom” after Clark was critical of him.

Antonio Brown doesn’t appear to be looking to burn bridges, he is absolutely taking a flamethrower to them. He’s vaporizing bridges on his way out of town. 

And then, just when you thought this story could not get more absurd, more over the top, and more ridiculous, a TV show called “The Masked Singer” aired. And you may say to yourself, Rome, why are you talking about a bizarre talent show where C-list celebrities wear masks and sing, and are judged by D-list celebrities?

Because why wouldn’t I? 

Who doesn’t love the sound of a competition where someone comes out wearing a Monster mask and sings a song, and then is judged by someone who hosted a show on MTV nearly 25 years ago? That sounds awesome. 

Who needs the Sopranos or Billions or Homeland when you can have someone in a deer mask singing and then the son of a sitcom actor reacts to it?

And, stop me if you know where this is going, but on last night’s episode, someone came out in a hippo mask, sang, and then ultimately had to take off the mask and it was Antonio Brown!

Sorry, I should’ve said spoiler alert. That’s on me. I know a lot of you were busy last night and were planning to gather the family around to watch the show when you were all in the same room. I apologize. But its news and I had to get into it. I’m sorry if I ruined your plans for the weekend. 

Anyway, yes, it was Antonio Brown who was wearing a hippo mask and singing on a reality show. Because just when you thought that AB tweeting a pic of AB with a quote that AB seemed to be attributing to AB was the most AB thing ever, along comes AB in a hippo mask on a reality singing competition. 

And here’s the incredible thing. All of that was in the last 24 hours. We’re not even through the first week of the offseason and we’ve already reached “wearing a hippo mask and appearing in a reality singing competition” part of this drama.

If that was in the first three days, how is AB going to continue this throughout the whole offseason? Antonio, this is a marathon, not a sprint. I know you can’t time the release of the reality singing competition shows, but come on, you need to pace yourself. 

If you use up all your tweets, Instagram videos, Instagram comments, and reality show material now, you’re going to have nothing after the wild card weekend.

And now is not the time when we really need you. Learn from the drama masters, the guys like Brett Favre. Save this for the summer, when there is nothing else to cover and nothing else to talk about. That’s when you really get your bang for your buck.  

And after all of this, nothing much has really changed. It doesn’t really matter why Brown got into it with Roethlisberger last week. There’s the report that Brown was bent about the fact that juju Smith-Schuster was voted team MVP. 

Maybe that was it. Maybe it wasn’t. That actual reason for last week’s incident doesn’t matter, because it wasn’t a one-time thing. Brown’s had more than his share of incidents over the last few years. It’s pretty clear there’s something that’s been going on for a long time and if this blowup wasn’t about how teammates voted for MVP, it was going to be for another reason.

Although I’ve always said, the best way to prove that your teammates were wrong to not vote for you as MVP is to throw a football at the quarterback, miss a bunch of practices, walkthroughs, and meetings, and then get deactivated for a must-win game. Then follow that up with a sustained PR campaign to apparently force your way out of town. That’s how I spell M-V-P.

But the larger point is, the details of what caused the incident last week in many ways don’t matter and it’s hard to see how Brown’s explanation for it would matter. Things are bad between Brown and his quarterback and his coach and maybe a bunch of other people in that locker room. 

But after all of this, he’s still a Steeler, it would still be very costly for them to trade him, and they’re about to enter a very, very long offseason. 

Buckle-up. I’m sure there’s some cooking competition where the chefs wear beekeeper’s masks that AB is about to enter.

For all the drama of yesterday, nothing has changed in the details. The financials of trading him are still bad, they’ll never get value on the field or off it, so they still have to hope that they can work it out and it blows over. If he can keep this up, and a few weeks from now, is still banging on about a trade, then they might have to, but for all the fans who wants to say, “just dump him and move on” it’s not that simple