Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has confirmed many of the details regarding the Antonio Brown situation.
Meeting with reporters on Wednesday, Tomlin said that Brown had lower-body soreness last Wednesday (particularly in his knee), and that he was given the day off. On Friday, Brown said he still had pain. Tomlin sent Brown for an MRI, and directed him to go home after that and get off the leg. (Tomlin later admitted that Brown didn’t get the MRI.)
At that point, the door was open for Brown, who had been listed as questionable with a knee injury, to play. But he went radio silent at that point, with no further communication with the team on Friday and none on Saturday. On Sunday, agent Drew Rosenhaus contacted Tomlin, explaining that Brown was feeling better and hoped to play. Tomlin said that it was too late for Brown to play.
Brown and Tomlin met before the game, and Tomlin told Brown that he should attend the game to support the team. Tomlin couldn’t confirm that Brown left the game at halftime, because Tomlin simply wasn’t focusing on it.
It’s clear that Tomlin is focused on it now, and that he’s upset. He called the situation “something that’s very significant and will be handled appropriately so,” and it’s clear there will be some sort of discipline. But Tomlin stopped short of suggesting Brown won’t be back with the team in 2019.
“I’m not going to speculate on trades,” Tomlin said, adding that the Steelers haven’t received a request for a trade.
Regardless, Tomlin said the situation will be addressed and needs to be addressed, especially since Brown went AWOL at a time when the team was in its “darkest hour,” with a “significant game” looming and Brown disappearing in the hours leading up to it.
Moving forward, Tomlin made it clear that he’ll be more inclined to be strict with players in the future, acknowledging his own responsibility for the mess that he now must clean up, as another season of high expectations and championship potential ended with a failure to make it to the playoffs.