Steelers teammates left to answer questions about Antonio Brown’s latest antics
Antonio Brown’s frustration was on full display Sunday at Heinz Field when television cameras caught him confronting Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and wide receivers coach Darryl Drake in the second half of a 42-37 loss to Kansas City.
One day later, Brown’s exasperation reached new heights when he went on Twitter and, in response to a former team employee’s criticism, the All-Pro wide receiver suggested he would welcome a trade.
“Trade me let’s find out,” Brown replied to a tweet from former Steelers public relations staffer Ryan Scarpino, who wrote that Brown wouldn’t have such eye-popping statistics if he didn’t have Ben Roethlisberger throwing the passes.
Brown’s tweet, which was posted Monday morning, has represented his only public comment in the aftermath of the Steelers’ loss in the home opener, a defeat that dropped their record to 0-1-1.
After catching nine passes for 67 yards — a total that ranked third on the team — and engaging his offensive coaches on the sideline, Brown hurriedly dressed and left the locker room as the media was permitted to enter. He was the only Steelers player active for the game to exit so hastily.
Brown also wasn’t in the locker room Monday afternoon during a 45-minute media availability, leaving other veteran players to answer questions about the wide receiver’s latest social media antics. Already since the start of training camp, he has called a veteran reporter a “clown” on Twitter and alleged he would break the jaw of another reporter whose story delved into his personal life.
“AB is a hell of a player, and I’m glad he plays for our team. It’s as simple as that,” defensive captain Cameron Heyward said. “I wouldn’t trade him for anybody in the world.”
Heyward said he doesn’t agree with the perception that Brown puts his accomplishments ahead of the team. Brown hasn’t topped 100 yards receiving in either game this season. He has 18 catches for 160 yards and one touchdown. JuJu Smith-Schuster also has 18 catches and a touchdowns, but he has totaled 240 yards.
“Antonio gives 110 percent every single time,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about that. The dude loves football, and for anyone to even question that is besides the point.”
Asked if it’s frustrating to continually answer questions about Brown, Heyward responded: “It gets frustrating when we don’t win. That’s all we’re talking about. If we’re not talking about football, we’re talking about the wrong thing. All this other stuff is beside the point. We just have to get wins.”
All-Pro guard David DeCastro doesn’t use social media and isn’t sure what drives players to respond to comments from fans. On Sunday night, linebacker Bud Dupree sent a direct message on Twitter to a fan who criticized him for not making plays during the game. Dupree responded that he was at the fan’s house with his “girl.”
“Everyone thinks their opinion matters,” DeCastro said. “And they get into fights with people. I don’t understand it. I really don’t. Maybe I’m just a weirdo.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time social media has become a topic of discussion concerning the Steelers. Last year, wide receiver Martavis Bryant criticized Smith-Schuster and ultimately was benched for a game because of his social media words.
“I think it’s just part of life in the NFL now. It’s like that added drama that has become kind of entertainment,” DeCastro said. “It’s a weird deal. It almost feels a little bit like the entertainment has become bigger than the game in a sense, which is sad to me. I always thought the game was more important.”
Heyward couldn’t escape hearing about the loss even when he went to dinner with his family Sunday night after the game.
“The waitress was a Kansas City fan, how about that?” Heyward said. “She kept going on and on saying she was glad Kansas City won. I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ and my wife is laughing like she must not know (who you are).”
Heyward didn’t hold it against the waitress.
“I gave her an adequate tip,” he said.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at email@example.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.