WR Brown takes no blame for rift with Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown said he believes he will be dealt by the team because that’s “what’s good for their business,” but he does not “take any blame” for the breakdown of his relationship with the franchise that has led to him being on the trading block.
In an extensive interview with ESPN’s Jeff Darlington following a tour of his childhood neighborhood of Liberty City in Miami earlier this week, Brown also talked about situations with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, coach Mike Tomlin and ownership that contributed to his desire to get out of Pittsburgh.
“I don’t take any blame,” Brown told Darlington. “I just think I took responsibility for my situation. You know, I didn’t point the finger, I didn’t make no one look bad, I didn’t throw no stones at anyone.”
Brown is officially on the trading block after meeting with Steelers brass earlier this month in South Florida. Both parties agreed that it’s best to work on a trade, though general manager Kevin Colbert made it clear the team wants “significant compensation.”
The three teams that have shown the most interest in Brown to date are the Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins and Tennessee Titans, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Other teams have had conversations with the Steelers and another could emerge. But the belief as of now is that the Raiders, Redskins and Titans are the most likely landing spots, sources said.
As far as what went wrong this season, Brown described what he believed was a disconnect with ownership.
“Sometimes things are bigger than just my issues, you know?” Brown said. “If you work for me for nine years, wouldn’t you expect you to know my girlfriend’s name or my dad’s name or my kid or, you know, would you expect me to meet your kid or at least know you on the level of some sort of integrity to know, like, ‘Hey, man, I appreciate what you do.'”
Brown also talked about his relationship with Roethlisberger, who publicly questioned the wide receiver’s route-running after a game-ending interception to the Denver Broncos in Week 12 of the 2018 season.
“Criticism really is a part of the job, you know what I’m saying? I answer criticism with achievement,” Brown said. “But, you know, and the professional level is, like, yo, like, if I’m your guy, make me know I’m your guy. But don’t say I’m your guy and then point the finger. Don’t say I’m your guy and then don’t throw me the ball the whole first quarter.
“I would’ve liked for me and Ben to be cool. You know what I mean? I thought we was cool. But when I think … I’ve been to his house one time. He’s been to my house one time. You know what I mean? We don’t work out in the offseason. You think that’s winning? That’s not winning.”
Brown owns an NFL record six consecutive 100-catch seasons, but he frustrated the organization when he failed to show up for a workday in Week 17 and was benched for the season finale.
He said he was told to “go home” by Tomlin after telling him he was “sore” ahead of the Week 17 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. Tomlin said he attempted without success to communicate with Brown leading up to game day but did not hear from Brown’s agent until the day of the game, when Tomlin was told Brown was available to play.
Said Brown: “So the last game of the year, I went home.”
The Steelers’ asking price for Brown started as a first-round pick and other compensation but has been reduced to a first-round pick, sources told Schefter. Brown said he believes he will be traded because the Steelers can avoid paying him a $2.5 million roster bonus by trading or releasing him before March 17.
“Why wouldn’t they not trade me? They gotta pay me $2.5 million on March 17,” he said. “If I invoice you March 17, $2.5 million that you gotta pay me, would you pay it or would you get somebody else to pay it? So it’s what — pretty much what’s good for their business. …
“They want to start a fresh offseason with no bad blood so their team could just focus on football. No distraction from any player. So I think they’ll get it done.”