Tim Benz: When it comes to ‘pressure,’ Antonio Brown has no one to blame but himself
Now I know what it’s like to be a defensive back trying to guard Antonio Brown in the end zone when he scores one of those one-handed, toe-tapping touchdowns.
I was right there, and I still have no idea what happened.
Yup. I was standing right next to Antonio Brown for eight minutes while he was in the middle of his anti-media speech Tuesday, and I still have no idea what’s going on. I can’t figure out why he’s upset, how it’s the media’s fault or why he thinks he’s not the catalyst for all his perceived problems in the first place.
Brown spoke to the media for the first time since he began his absence from organized team activities. Here is a string of quotes on various topics, some of which make significantly less sense than others.
• On why he skipped most of the organized team activity period: “I’ve got five kids. A lot of family. The only thing left for me to do in the game is to win a championship. I had to take a little time to be with my family and see what’s important for me.”
This quote is actually the easiest to understand, once you get away from the practice usually equals championships part.
But if Brown feels the need to spend more time with family during what is apparently a turbulent time — based on a now-removed Instagram post — go ahead. Skip organized team activities. They are optional, after all.
If that’s where this all stopped, that’d be it. This column wouldn’t be posted. But when Brown then went off on a tangent about needing to get away from media scrutiny and pressure, that’s where he lost me.
• On reaction to his comments about Le’Veon Bell’s contract dispute: “I just said the first rule to getting better is to show up. I didn’t say he’s got to show up. He’s got his own business.”
• On his Instagram post venting about Mike Tomlin and Bruce Arians his rookie year: “When I take time to reflect, I reflect on guys who made it hard on me for no reason. It’s good as a player to get those things out of your mind.”
• On needing to be away from OTAs to escape media and fan “pressure”: “I’ve gotta wake up to the Google alerts. I’m constantly under the pressure. I can’t go nowhere and work out by myself. Fans come meet me at the field. I can’t do nothing normal. You guys write about me every day.”
Let’s sift through this stuff best as we can. We should start with the irony of the Facebook Live-streaming, touchdown-dancing, water cooler-throwing wide receiver bemoaning how much attention is being thrown his way.
Similarly, if he feels like he can’t escape from media scrutiny, maybe disable the Google alerts on your phone.
Next, let’s get to Brown’s frustration about fans accosting him at practice. That’s not going to happen at the Steelers-guarded facility on the South Side. There are at most two or three fans per day waiting for autographs on the other side of the fence. Players only stop their cars to sign if they feel like it.
Then, as far as the comments about Bell go, I’m not sure how else you interpret what Brown said when he stated during the first week of OTAs: “The first thing about getting better is showing up.” That seems pretty black and white to me. There were about a thousand other ways to answer that question which would’ve made lesser headlines if Brown wanted to keep that situation defused.
Lastly, there were the Instagram posts regarding Arians and Tomlin.
He still didn’t make it clear what provoked that response now. Arians has been gone since the end of 2011. If he’s saying players need to let those emotions out, why did he wait seven years? If he is complaining about the media writing too many stories about him, then don’t chum the water with something juicy like that out of nowhere.
Whatever problems Brown is dealing with when it comes to the media are self-created. Whatever excess attention is being paid toward him is usually generated through his own social media interaction.
The hope was that 2018 would be a campaign with less drama for the Steelers. Between Bell still not being signed, Ben Roethlisberger’s potential replacement being drafted and all of this A.B. mess, that appears to be off to a great start, eh?
It’s only June, by the way.