It remains to be seen whether the NFL will take any type of discipline against the Steelers for embellishing the injury report regarding the Week 17 status of receiver Antonio Brown. It’s clear, based on coach Mike Tomlin’s comments from Wednesday, that the league could impose sanctions against the Steelers, if it chooses to.
First, and most obviously, Tomlin admitted that, when he didn’t hear from Brown on Saturday, he decided that Brown wouldn’t play on Sunday. At that point, Brown should have been downgraded from questionable to out.
Second, Brown’s no show on Thursday, which Tomlin seemed to confirm based on the manner in which he explained the situation (and which per a league source definitely occurred), shouldn’t have simply been addressed by an explanation tin the injury report hat Brown didn’t practice due to a knee injury. Brown didn’t practice due to a failure to show up for work, and that’s how it should have been disclosed.
It’s also possible that Brown wasn’t injured at all, and that the Steelers hid behind that excuse in order to keep the situation from becoming a disruption and distraction before a must-win game. Sure, Brown may have claimed to have a knee injury, but it appears that the Steelers simply took his word for it in lieu of sparking a showdown.
A showdown is now looming between Brown and the Steelers. A separate showdown could be looming between the Steelers and the league, if a decision is made to investigate the matter aggressively and to hold the team accountable, if justified by the facts.