As we brace for the summit meeting between the man who owns the Pittsburgh Steelers and the man who thinks he owns the Steelers, the question begs: Is Antonio Brown’s behavior carefully calculated to ramrod his way out of Pittsburgh, or is he just nuts?
Here’s betting the latter, because some things Brown did to perhaps force the issue have been clearly counterproductive.
Brown liked two tweets that referred to rape accusations made against Ben Roethlisberger in 2009 and ’10. Brown also tweeted that Roethlisberger has an “owner mentality.” (It’s actually a quarterback mentality.)
Brown accused coach Mike Tomlin of telling his teammates he quit. This was right after Brown stopped showing up the week before the Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. So Brown did quit. (Tomlin apparently was supposed to keep that secret.)
By insulting Roethlisberger and Tomlin, Brown might think that makes it impossible for the Steelers to keep him.
But it also makes it more difficult for the Steelers to trade Brown. What’s to keep Brown from turning on his next quarterback or next coach? The quarterbacks and coaches see that, and it trickles up to GMs and owners.
The Steelers won’t let Brown go for peanuts, and they shouldn’t.
Owner Art Rooney II probably hasn’t dismissed the notion of Brown returning. If he had, he wouldn’t be meeting with Brown, a proposition Rooney doubtless would find distasteful if he didn’t have an agenda.
Rooney doesn’t need mere closure. Rooney needs to see this end favorably for his franchise.
Rooney also doesn’t want Brown to force his way off the Steelers. He rightly sees that as a bad precedent.
But would he make Brown sit a year to prove it?
Le’Veon Bell did, and he’s still not gone.
Las Vegas sports books list the Arizona Cardinals as the team Brown most likely will play for in 2019. But the Steelers are second-favorite. Vegas gets it.
It’s an excrement show, and it’s all Brown’s fault. Every single bit of it.
Ignore Brown’s manipulations, especially the black/white dynamic he lamely tries to inject. No one ever has been less accountable in the history of that word’s definition than Brown in Pittsburgh, though he certainly has been enabled.
Anything besides Brown leaving Pittsburgh seems inconceivable.
But much still is to be decided.
Brown thinks he’s in control of the situation, as evidenced by him announcing his departure from Pittsburgh on Twitter despite having three years left on his contract with the Steelers.
Brown only can leave the Steelers if they let him. He’s an employee, just like the rest.
But Brown is treating the situation like free agency. He posted a poll on Instagram asking fans where he should play next.
It’s not a stretch to imagine Brown demanding that the Steelers trade him where he wants to go or not trade him where he doesn’t.
How the Steelers perceive themselves weighs into the scenario. Is their Super Bowl window still open?
The unavailability of Bell, Brown and Ryan Shazier argues otherwise. The presence of Roethlisberger lends optimism, however false.
Roethlisberger gives the Steelers a puncher’s chance but not a realistic one. Rooney might be better advised to make regaining control of his franchise and locker room a bigger priority than chasing a Super Bowl pipe dream.
Does that mean trading Brown for whatever the Steelers must settle for? Or does it mean holding out for the right offer at the expense of Brown’s patience and dwindling prime ($2.5 million roster-bonus payment due March 17 be damned)?
Brown’s recent Twitter tirade was mostly gibberish.
The most amusing quote: “Time to play for my own Team AB84 the family!”
No one ever has played for himself more than Brown. Nor has anyone ever made that more evident.
Brown seems to think he’ll be meeting Rooney on equal terms: “This be my first meeting with Mr Rooney ever as Antonio Brown the man not AB84 the player in locker.”
Brown is sadly mistaken. He is Rooney’s contracted employee, just like when they’ve spoken in the locker room.
Rooney would be wise to remind Brown that right away and treat him accordingly thereafter.
Brown isn’t in control. Not unless Rooney capitulates.
Dan Rooney wouldn’t.