I don’t have a problem with Antonio Brown: and neither should you | Steel City Underground

Steel City Underground

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown
steelers.com

I understand as I type these words that some out there will think this is your usual puff piece meant to suck up to an individual player. Or they’ll take it as some form of clickbait.

Please don’t mistake it as either. Just as the saying goes “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side” so goes the tale of Antonio Brown, a Pittsburgh Steelers superstar who all of a sudden is under fire from the court of public opinion.

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As knee-jerk reactions go, the events surrounding AB over the last week or so have been rather ridiculous. Entitled fans are upset that a football team, one they supposedly love, hasn’t won a game yet this season. The Steelers tied a previously 1-31 over their last two seasons Cleveland Browns squad, then fell behind 21 points in the first quarter to a talented Kansas City Chiefs offense while simultaneously failing to play at an optimal level themselves.

I get it. You’re frustrated. You’re disappointed. You’re downright mad!

How do you think the players feel? The coaches? Ownership?

They converge every season to do one thing and one thing only: win. Not winning usually lands these players on the unemployment line, unlike those who criticize their efforts with no recourse for their actions. It’s not as if I show up at the office on Monday and have to face public scrutiny because I screwed up at my job…

But could you only imagine if that were the case? I’m sure some folks would think differently before typing their very own words on the Internet, blasting pro athletes because they didn’t get to fully enjoy their beer-and-wing infused Sunday afternoon.

Or worse, you’re someone who works (or has worked) in the media or public relations and decides your opinion is worth more than your reputation as you voice it to the masses.

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God forbid one of those players, especially one who works his tail off so hard to do things no other NFL player has ever done before actually defends himself. God forbid there’s some emotion on the sideline, which shows said player actually cares about the team and/or the game.

And God forbid it’s a player who is rarely hurt, gives his all, stays clean of drugs and off-field issues such as domestic violence.

Yet, here we are, lambasting Antonio Brown, one of the greatest players in not only the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers but the NFL, for taking offense to someone implying all of his accomplishments would be null and void without Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback.

Are we that absent-minded to forget what David Carr said about Big Ben back in June? He said he was being propped up by Brown and the recently absent Le’Veon Bell. Roethlisberger didn’t publicly respond to Carr’s remarks, but then again, he wasn’t sub-tweeted (passive-aggressively attacked but not directly “mentioned”) in a tweet like Brown was:

My question to fans is, what would you do if this was you? I suppose you would avoid the trolls, but what if it’s someone who used to work for the same company you do and is questioning your livelihood or legacy?

Brown’s remark was short and to the point: I’ll show you what I can do elsewhere if you don’t think I’m good. He’s not out there demanding a trade, he’s making a statement that it takes two to tango: he and Roethlisberger are the dance partners.

He’s also not having girlfriends publicly post on social media about how unhappy he is (Martavis Bryant), calling out teammates directly on Twitter (also Bryant), skipping camp or showing up on film in strip clubs while your teammates are practicing (Le’Veon Bell), getting caught with a DUI, drugs, or failing drug tests (also Bell), selling drugs or involved in domestic violence accusations (Santonio Holmes) or alleged instances of sexual misconduct (Roethlisberger).

And that’s just examples of things that have happened with current or former Steelers in the last decade or so. Let’s not get started with the rest of the NFL. Yet, here we are with Brown being talked about as a “distraction” or “bad influence”. One member of the local media going as far to call him a ringleader of the Steelers “circus”. Another made a call that any fan who defends Brown is a “punk”.

Why are we so fixated on a player who is only guilty of one thing?

That one thing is being darn good at his job. Maybe so good that jealous breeds envy.

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Does Brown bring attention to himself at times? Sure. But I defy you to find someone in his position as a highly paid superstar athlete who doesn’t have the spotlight on their every action. Then I’ll defy you to find someone who has handled their business as well as Brown.

Players such as Antonio, on and off of the field, are a rare breed. Rather than rip him apart because of a simple game, maybe we should empathize with the position they are in.

Then again, I’ll be told he gets paid millions of dollars “to play a game”. This is usually coming from people who call themselves adults but act anything like it. Just don’t be surprised when another adult has had enough of the garbage and gives you a dose of your own medicine.





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  1. I don’t have a problem with AB defending himself. My problem with him is that he’s being selfish with all the public complaining when he doesn’t get targeted as often as he’d like. The Steelers all know that if AB is open, he’s going to catch the ball. Ben only throws to other players when he sees them more open, probably due to double coverage on AB. He’s not complaining because poor choices by the QB or coordinator are costing the team points. He’s complaining that it’s not HIM that’s getting targeted. And him not showing up for the team today only reinforces my point. I don’t want him gone, just disciplined.

    • Joe Kuzma says:

      We don’t know precisely what he was talking about. If it were a RB and not AB (a WR) would we have the same perception? What if it were JuJu and not AB?

      That’s why I don’t hang my hat on this stuff. Same goes for Monday. There wasn’t a practice but everyone freaked out about it. We don’t know why he was or wasn’t there. We may never know. His teammates don’t seem too concerned about it (unlike with Bell’s absence) so that’s enough validation for me that’s a nothing burger.

      • While it’s true that we don’t know it for sure yet, we do know that this wouldn’t be the first time, if that’s what he was doing. Either way, I have a problem with him for going off publicly on the coach and coordinator. But I’m with you, in that I’m OK with him defending the quality of his play.

        • Joe Kuzma says:

          Not sure if you listen to our podcast or not, but I just so happened to pull my binoculars up when this supposed situation was going on on the sidelines. I didn’t see him and Fichtner but I did see AB with WRs coach Drake and it looked like absolutely nothing. Ended up going to the bench. He was noticeably upset (took of his helmet) but he wasn’t screaming down anyone’s throat. So I’m not sure what happened between then, but I never took it as a “me” issue.

          Then again, he is the best player out there, so it must be frustrating when losing.

          By “first time” do you mean the Gatorade cooler deal? I may have done similar if I knew I had a sure touchdown. I’m willing to bet AB is all about perfection. You don’t get to where you are without setting high standards. Ever see him at camp? He’s STILL practicing afterward after all of these years!

          • His efforts and technique are nearly flawless. There was the Gatorade event. This week when Ben ran it in, he avoided celebration. There was the time he didn’t get back to the huddle when they were in hurry up because he wasn’t getting the ball. I really don’t need to give more examples. It’s been well documented for years that he’s that way. It’s ok that you excuse him due to his great skill. Many of us don’t.

          • Joe Kuzma says:

            AB wasn’t a part of JuJu’s celebration either, but he was a part of Washington’s (first ever) TD along with Big Ben… Ben usually doesn’t join in the celebrations either. Should we read into that more like everyone is with AB?

            Honestly this isn’t the guy you need to make out to be the enemy.

            I was in the stadium, I didn’t see many huddles because they were using hurry-up A LOT Sunday after they got behind. Therefore a lot of players weren’t in the huddle.

            Ever see the look of a defeated opponent? That factors into all of this too.

            Just have to put ourselves in their shoes. That’s all I’m trying to say.

  2. Joe, everyone else on the team was in the same shoes as Brown (defeated), but didn’t behave like that. Again, I didn’t say he is the enemy, or should be jettisoned. But he repeatedly sets an awful example with his selfish tantrums, and should be disciplined. EOM

  3. I’ve been biting my tongue for months, but I just have to point out that I told you so. I really think you should do a follow-up article, apologizing to the media and fans who were spot on in having a problem with ab.

  4. Joe Kuzma says:

    This particular article was written in September, and at the time, still holds true. I wrote a similar reaction piece to Ben Roethlisberger’s comments following his INT in Denver.

    I’ve said a lot between then and now, both here and on the podcast, in regard to Antonio Brown. But why is it my responsibility to apologize for an opinion I held eight months ago? I stand by it and I always stand by the players. There’s far too much overreacting and further negativity on the Internet to jump all over a player in the way that Ryan Scarpino did. I found it especially alarming considering Scarpino’s former job title and duties!

    AB’s tweet may seem prophetic now. Maybe it was calculated and maybe it was just his kneejerk reaction to low blow tweet. All I was asking was for fans to back off of a player who we didn’t PUBLICLY know to have any off-field drama and allow him to continue to be the GOAT.

  5. You criticized those of us who saw Brown as a problem, a player with an awful attitude that needed addressing. You said we were wrong for thinking that way, and for stating it. There was a time when Brown was somewhat silent after he quit on the team, and I’m sure you were hoping that when he finally told his side, he’d come out as not having a bad attitude. I’m sure there was even a thought that he Just behaved horribly to finagle a favorable trade, but we are seeing that even after he got everything he wanted, he’s still showing the world that he’s a jealous, maniacal, narcissistic egomaniac. You were very wrong about him, and we were right. You should apologize for criticizing us for criticizing him, because we were right all along.

  6. Joe Kuzma says:

    Actually, I was criticizing Ryan Scarpino and those who backed him with ZERO INFORMATION!!

    Did you know AB was going to quit on his team back in September? No.

    Did you see any other trade demands in September? No. October? No. November?

    So everyone was going off of AB showing up to camp in a helicopter, his touchdown celebrations, etc. Everyone was assassinating his character back when the season started with little to no information to support it. For those who did so, they should’ve equally been all over JuJu for the same flamboyant reasons.

    This was my position and I’m sticking to it. If you felt attacked personally, so be it. That wasn’t my intention. Typically my articles that are slanted like this are to make you (not “you” specifically but in general) THINK about why you are taking said position. If I had the information to go by that transpired since Week 17 up through today, I think it’s fairly obvious that this piece would’ve NEVER been written.

    So I’m not exactly sure why I’m being put to test for past opinions when clearly I’m on your side right now in April 2019.

  7. While you may have been motivated to say the things you did in this article by a single issue involving Scarpino, in its entirety, including your follow-up comments, you canvassed his entire career to that point, not just that single issue. His entire behavior was the total topic.

    You say there was little to no information to “assassinate” his character at that point, but that’s just because you didn’t see it. We saw it! I didn’t criticize you for not seeing what was obvious to us. You criticized, and you were wrong about him.

    In the years leading up to this article, I had seen plenty of evidence to have a problem with Brown, some of which you pointed out. I know you didn’t tell me I was wrong about him as a personal attack of me, but any time you tell someone they’re wrong, and then find out later they were right, you should apologize.

    • Joe Kuzma says:

      This is really kind of pointless to go back and forth just so you can have your “I told you so” moment even though I’ve mentioned multiple times (in these comments and elsewhere on the site) that I agree with you now versus where I was in September. You guessed correctly. I just defended a guy who was being linked to behavior he hadn’t yet committed or that was public knowledge at the time and asked people to be a little more open-minded before jumping to conclusions.

      That is all.

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