Tim Benz: Barring significant personal excuse, suspend Steelers’ Antonio Brown
If we come to find out that Antonio Brown had a legitimate reason to miss team meetings Monday, then forget what you are about to read.
Death of a family member. A child goes to the hospital. Illness of a spouse.
Failing something that severe, though, Antonio Brown should be suspended for a game for skipping out on his duties with his teammates.
Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is trying to make it sound as if Brown’s mysterious day off was for something sincere. And he insists it’s got nothing to do with his “trade me” tweet Monday morning.
1/2 Steelers’ WR Antonio Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus: ‘The tweet yesterday was not in reference to anything other than Antonio responding to a person he knows. It was not directed towards a trade, or wanting to be trading. Any idea he was asking for a trade is not accurate.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 18, 2018
2/3 Rosenhaus: “Antonio had a personal matter. I talked to the team about it. His issue was unrelated to the tweet or his relationship with the team. Third, AB has an incredible drive to win. He just wants to win. That’s all that that is.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 18, 2018
Hmm. Interesting, Drew. If Rosenhaus is telling the truth, Mike Tomlin appeared to be oblivious of a reason for Brown’s absence. The Pittsburgh Steelers coach spent most of his weekly press conference Tuesday tamping down every storyline imaginable in the wake of his team’s recent loss to Kansas City.
So if he was aware of a warranted, excused reason for Brown to have been absent from team meetings, wouldn’t he have just killed the story right there by saying so, as opposed to letting the debate linger?
Instead, all Tomlin said was, “I’m looking forward to visiting with him today and discussing that and some other things. I’m not going to get into the details of why he wasn’t here or whether he was excused and all of those things.
“I’d just as soon as leave those things in-house.”
Tomlin wouldn’t promise that he’d give details of his conversation with Brown after he has it, either.
He should. Because, right now, no one believes his star player’s agent. And no one will believe him if Brown winds up playing Monday night after some sort of non-answer explanation as to why he wasn’t with the team Monday.
The vast majority of Steelers fans seem to believe the receiver skipped out Monday because he’s sulking. Most fans I’ve interacted with online or on talk shows tend to believe he’s mad either over that tweet from former team employee Ryan Scarpino or the fact he doesn’t have as many receptions as he wants.
Perhaps instead of looking at the box score, he should look at the tape to see if he’s getting the separation from defensive backs he used to get.
Yesterday, I ran a poll on Twitter, and 63 percent of respondents voted that they would prefer to see the Steelers suspend Brown a game. That’s despite the fact that this contest against Tampa is as close to must-win as you are going to get in September as the Steelers stare 0-1-1 in the face.
I agree with the majority here. If Brown never had done anything distracting, I’d understand a free pass. But that’s not the case.
Missing practice comes on top of threatening a reporter online, daring the team to trade him, bailing on postgame interviews Sunday while the rest of his team stuck around to answer questions about an ugly loss and using Facebook Live to stream from the locker room in Kansas City back in 2016.
On top of that history, add various sideline temper tantrums against his first-year offensive coordinator, his backup quarterback and an innocent Gatorade cooler.
Enough. Brown went on that bizarre tangent about “exceptionalism” last Friday. Apparently, he thinks “exceptionalism” means that he is an exception to team rules and standards of behavior.
Some believe suspending Brown would backfire. The argument being, if Tomlin would suspend Brown for this game, he’d shut down or recoil from the team.
Really? How much worse could it get? What’s he going to do? Hold out midseason? Pull a “reverse Le’Veon Bell” and leave after six weeks and then do it again next year?
If he does, so what? It’s not like he’s allowing himself to be coached anyway. Maybe trading him and moving away from Bell isn’t such a bad idea after all. These two have become too tedious.
Brown already has been given a few inches. He has taken more than his fair share of miles. If Tomlin doesn’t sit him here, what’s the next thing Brown feels like he can skip? Practice? A game? A drive or two in a blowout? A road trip?
Barring some major revelation about why Brown was gone Monday, sit him down for a week. To use a Tomlinism, “his body of work has earned it.” Then bring him back for the Baltimore Ravens game next Sunday night.
Maybe he can reach the ball across the goal line again and make us all remember why we used to like him in the first place.
Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.