The Steelers have grown accustomed to dictating terms to their players. The tables have turned in recent months.
It started with running back Le'Veon Bell refusing to sign a long-term contract and eventually sitting out a full season. It continues with receiver Antonio Brown, who isn’t remaining quiet or passive as the team unloads on him. Brown posted a message on social media while coach Mike Tomlin teed off on Brown’s AWOL act from Week 17. More recently, Brown had an apparently sarcastic message for owner Art Rooney II after Rooney made it clear that Brown’s future very well may be elsewhere.
Brown has since promised to address “negative speculations about my character” in a video taped with former NFL receiver Chad Johnson. He also capped a string of Monday morning tweets with this: “All the things I know I still been silent doe #Donotdisturb.”
With former Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders recently dusting off his complaints about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger — and with many believing that the Steelers vs. Antonio issue actually boils down to Antonio vs. Ben — it could be that Antonio will decide to air dirty laundry about a quarterback who has repeatedly been the target of concerns regarding leadership and teamwork.
If Brown wants out (and he indeed may), picking a public fight with Roethlisberger could be the best way to make it happen. Even if it didn’t immediately work for Terrell Owens, when his scorched-earth effort to get out of Philadelphia eventually became an attack on Donovan McNabb.