Brown’s work ethic a driving force behind monster extension

Back in 2012, a somewhat unknown Antonio Brown signed a five-year, $42 million deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers. They were banking on the potential Brown had flashed up to that point – it was clear he possessed special ability.

But nobody, and I mean Nobody, would have predicted that AB would evolve into arguably the best wide receiver in the league.

On Monday, the Steelers made Brown the NFL’s highest paid receiver to the tune of a four-year, $68 million contract extension.

Opinions from fans and analysts alike have varied, given that Brown turns 29 in July. What’s for sure is that AB outperformed his first contract by leaps and bounds, as he had arguably the best four-year stretch for a receiver in NFL history, from 2013-2016.

Basically, Pittsburgh was afforded Brown’s astronomical production at a huge bargain, as he wasn’t even in the top ten in regards to salaries of receivers across the league. But AB never complained. He never held out. He honored his contract, knowing that the Steelers take care of their own, who go about situations the right way.

Brown’s production has been rewarded, and there’s one big reason I believe Pittsburgh had no qualms about paying up: AB has an unmatched work ethic. Across football, 30 is the age when it is assumed running backs and wide receivers will start to slow down, or decline. After all, to make it to 30 in the NFL is an accomplishment in itself. The older a player gets, the more wear and tear his body takes, the harder he has to work to stay in form.

Does anyone think this is going to be a problem for Antonio Brown?

He’s posted at least 100 catches and 1,200 yards in each of the last four seasons, including seasons of 129 receptions for 1,698 yards, and 136 receptions for 1,834 yards. While his statistics were down a notch in 2016 (106 catches for 1,284 yards), he still tallied 12 touchdowns.

In context, his stats being down from 2015 don’t necessarily represent a decline in ability or that AB has “lost a step.” Several factors contributed. He only played 15 games. There was no Martavis Bryant on the other side to stop double coverage, and he faced triple teams regularly.

While a very, very small decline may take place, I have no reason to believe Brown won’t continue to dominate well into his 30’s – because of his work ethic. He has transformed himself by simply putting in the work – working harder than the next guy. If you follow Brown on any sort of social media, he’s always putting his workouts on display. He’s in the gym working on his body or his craft nearly every night.

The fact that AB has risen to these great heights after being an undersized, sixth-round pick is amazing.

Also, AB hasn’t let success, or his somewhat flashy style, stop his grind. This is the precise reason I think giving him the extension was the right move. Save all the numbers and accolades – Brown has said from day one that winning a championship is the most important goal.

There is literally no scenario in which not having Antonio Brown for Ben Roethlisberger‘s final years, and a possible Super Bowl run, makes any sense. Antonio outplayed his first deal, and has earned every penny of his new one.

If anyone thinks he’s going to stop now, you’ve got another thing coming… don’t think so?

See for yourself:

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