Kevin Gorman: Antonio Brown showing the Steeler Way
If the first rule of getting better is showing up, as Antonio Brown professes, the Steelers All-Pro wide receiver is on his way to becoming the best.
Brown is showing up, showing out and showing others the Steeler Way at OTAs this week.
His teammates, starting with All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell, should take note.
Brown made headlines Wednesday when he suggested Bell’s best bet in contract negotiations with the Steelers is to show up to OTAs instead of skipping them in protest of having the franchise tag placed on him.
“If you show up, I think everyone will understand where you want to be, that you want to be here not just this year but for years to come,” Brown said. “Come out here and show up, show you want to get better and show guys you’re serious.”
But it was his other comments that showed “AB” is serious about being one of the Steelers’ leaders.
Brown proved it in the playoffs, returning after missing two-plus games with a torn calf to catch seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the AFC divisional playoff against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“In the playoff game,” Brown said, “obviously, I couldn’t run as well as I usually could run, but I was grateful I was able to go out there and fight with my teammates. Right now, I’m feeling really well.”
“Better than ever!” Brown bellowed, with a big smile.
Where Bell is conspicuous by his absence and Ben Roethlisberger caused a stir with his comments after the Steelers drafted quarterback Mason Rudolph in the third round, Brown is saying all the right things this spring.
The ninth-year veteran could be complaining the Steelers spent second-round picks on wide receivers in each of the past two drafts — JuJu Smith-Schuster last year and James Washington this year — but instead is embracing them.
“I don’t care who we pick,” Brown said. “Everyone’s a Steeler. I welcome them with open arms. The best guys are going to be in a helmet to help us win. It’s a competitive league, so I embrace anyone who’s a Steeler. I love everyone who’s a Steeler, and hopefully, these guys know what being a Steeler means when they get here.”
Brown was asked what the Steeler Way means to him and what the team’s newcomers should expect at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side.
“When they walk in the building, they understand it,” Brown said. “It’s hard-nosed, physical. It’s a championship environment, a championship culture, a bunch of big-time, first-class players in a blue-collar city.”
Look beyond Brown’s flamboyant style and social media status, and you’ll see a Steeler who is focused on winning a Super Bowl.
The young receivers were in awe watching him during and even after practice, as Brown caught every ball from every angle imaginable on the Jugs machine.
“It’s all about leading with example,” Brown said. “If you do the right things, usually the guys come to me.”
Brown wouldn’t even complain about the Steelers trading Martavis Bryant to the Oakland Raiders, even though three of Brown’s top five seasons came with Bryant opposite him.
“We lose guys every year,” Brown said. “We’ve got some guys who are willing to step up. If not, just throw me all the passes.”
Brown said that with a big smile, as a Steeler who’s better than ever and on his way to becoming the best.