Tim Benz: Making sense of Steelers WR Antonio Brown’s wandering thoughts
Before Pittsburgh Steelers practice Thursday afternoon, wide receiver Antonio Brown spoke publicly for the first time since he skipped work Monday.
He addressed his absence, his now infamous “Trade me let’s find out” tweet and how he yelled at some members of the offensive coaching staff Sunday.
Much like another press gathering he held back in June forced by some odd social media posts, it was another wandering stream-of-consciousness caked with contradictions, malapropisms and inaccuracies.
However, there were a few revelations that are worth a further look.
It’s more difficult to follow a Brown news conference than it is to follow him in coverage. After every one I witness, my notebook looks like one of the mazes on the back of a kids’ menu at Ruby Tuesday.
• Most comically, Brown said “I show up for work every day.” Well, A.B., no you don’t. You didn’t show up Monday. Which is why we were hanging around your locker Thursday.
• Brown said his absence from team meetings Monday was excused and Tomlin knew about it. Why, then, was he disciplined if his absence was excused and Tomlin knew about it? Tomlin also said at his news conference Tuesday that he was looking forward to getting the explanation when he met with him later that afternoon. So clearly he didn’t have all the answers he was looking for by Monday morning.
• Asked why he wasn’t in the locker room after the game Sunday, Brown replied, “I’m (ticked) off we lost the game.” But then he went on to say he was “available” to the media. Which he wasn’t. He left the locker room before the media was allowed in. He was the only player who dressed who did so. I saw it. He blew right past me like most receivers are doing to the Steelers secondary these days.
Brown said he spends 20 hours a day dedicating himself to football. That’s physically impossible. If it can be proven true, that may be part of the problem. Maybe he’s too tired, which is why he isn’t getting open as easily so far this year.
In the third quarter Sunday, CBS cameras caught a visibly angry Brown stalking the sidelines. A.B. claims he wasn’t yelling at his coaches because he was upset over targets and catches. He says he was just mad because of the score. “We were getting beat by 40,” Brown said. “I’m not on the sideline begging for the ball or making statements. I’m (ticked) off. We’re losing. We suck.”
Yet, at the time of that display, the Steelers had just gotten in the red zone. He had just been pulled in an attempt to run James Conner into the end zone. Which eventually happened, tying the game 28-28.
The second time Brown was caught barking at his coaches they were down by 14, right before T.J. Watt’s safety.
Keep in mind, though, Brown also didn’t celebrate with any of his teammates after that Conner score or Ben Roethlisberger’s wild scramble TD. That’s quite a departure for a guy who, a few years ago, made it sound like celebrating touchdowns was as important as scoring them.
Some reporters — myself included — initially were confused when Brown referred to himself as a “compassionate player.”
Upon further review, I think he just meant “passionate.” I’m not a great lip-reader. But I’m OK. And believe me, there was nothing “compassionate” about what he was yelling on the sidelines.
Brown was asked if he had any physical limitations at this time. He didn’t admit to any. But he didn’t say “no,” either.
“You don’t care about my problems. You’re probably glad I have them,” Brown responded. “No one cares about my problems. They just care about the winning.”
That was the last question of the news conference. It’s a one word “no” answer if he isn’t.
He doesn’t look as explosive as he normally does. He had that nagging hip/upper leg issue in training camp. Maybe the calf from last year is still a problem. Either way, I think he’s playing hurt.
• Brown at least admitted he understands now that the “trade me” tweet was dumb. “I’m grateful to put on my uniform, grateful to be a part of this organization. I don’t take that for granted. Obviously, it was a stupid remark online. I just have to stay away from online distractions and letting people get me out of my character.”
• As he did in June, Brown frequently redirected questions back at the media as if the press was creating these stories. No one in the press yelled at a coach, asked to be traded or tweeted a threat to another reporter.
Brown did all of that himself.
It’s obvious that A.B. doesn’t grasp the idea that social media is “on the record.” If he wants his own form of public communication, he doesn’t get to pick and choose what other people want to talk about once he puts it out for consumption.
Each tweet is basically a news release for his 1.25 million followers. So if he doesn’t want the media to have a story, don’t give us one.
We could use the break anyway.