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.
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.
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:
AB needs to thank his lucky stars, because he was drafted by a team that had Ben. And Ben got AB paid. You know darn well he wouldn’t put up those numbers for other teams.
— Ryan Scarpino (@RyanScarpino) September 16, 2018
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?
Trade me let’s find out https://t.co/4OeepI78zy
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) September 17, 2018
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.
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.