Will Steelers discipline Antonio Brown for conduct detrimental to the team?

Getty Images

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown seems to be using social media to get what he wants: A one-way ticket out of town. And so the question becomes whether the Steelers will tolerate his strategy quietly, or whether they will push back.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement allows a team to fine a player up to four week’s salary and/or to suspend him for a period not to exceed four weeks. The language of the labor deal implies that a suspension would apply only to behavior that occurs within the confines of football season, at the very earliest when training camp begins.

The question becomes whether a team can impose a four-week suspension effective Week One for misconduct occurring now, in the offseason. It would be new territory for the NFL and the NFL Players Association, but it’s becoming undeniable that Brown is engaged in conduct detrimental to the Steelers, because he’s obviously being disruptive to key relationships (including with his coach and with his quarterback) in an effort to force his way out.

Taking action now would represent an extremely aggressive interpretation of the CBA, but nothing stops the Steelers from giving it a try. If the Steelers were to suspend Brown now, effective Week One, the issue would likely be resolved via a grievance well before Week One.

In the interim, the Steelers would be sending a clear message to Brown regarding the team’s willingness to tolerate his behavior. Coupled with a meeting between Brown and owner Art Rooney II during which Rooney would tell Brown that he’ll play for the Steelers or no one, that could be the thing that gets Brown to realize that, if he hopes to continue to play professional football, he’ll submit to the will of the Steelers and accept the fact that he’ll remain in Pittsburgh, at least for three more seasons.

It’s a strategy that carries real risk. Brown may call the team’s bluff, forcing the team to allow a distraction to become even bigger than it is. The Steelers need to ask themselves how aggressively they’re willing to push it, balancing short-term team harmony against the long-term importance of ensuring that players at all times will submit to the will of the entity that pays them to play football.

29 responses to “Will Steelers discipline Antonio Brown for conduct detrimental to the team?

  1. It’s simple…if the Steelers care about winning…He won’t be on the roster week 1…

    If they just want to get revenge outta spite like they did with Leveon…and punt away the season…He will be on the roster week 1…

  2. It’s a tough spot to be in, but the Steelers allowed it to get to this point. They have no one to thank but themselves.

  3. He should stay on the Steelers’ roster until his contract is finished.

    Now,… I don’t know that they should bother to have him suit up and be at the stadium for any of that time.

  4. Exactly what they should do. If he’s suspended he doesn’t count as a roster spot IIRC

  5. Despite the distractions, the club has been pretty resilient finding “the next guy”. How amazing would it be to to keep Brown in check, eat the salary, and remove all power from the player. Probably not the smartest move, but it’s a threat. Millionaire vs. billionaire chess.

  6. Can’t they simply suspend him for week 1 in 2019 for leaving the stadium at half time during the final game of the 2018 season against the Bengals? Because he had hurty feelings that he was inactive?

  7. I watched the video at the top of this story. They made a few interesting points.

    First, both Mike and Chris mentioned that being insolent against your coach and teammates is one thing. Telling the owner to go fly a kite is an entirely different matter. If he wanted to escalate the situation he certainly did that. I get the feeling AB won’t be so insolent whenever it is he meets with Rooney. I get the feeling that meeting is going to be mostly Rooney telling AB like it is. What would happen to one of us had we treated our employer like AB has? We’d have been out on our ear about two seconds after. AB is over-playing his hand here and making the owner mad is NOT a good idea. Given his behavior they could probably suspend him every week which means no pay and no stats. I wouldn’t be surprised now if Rooney digs in his heels to show he means business. He’s not spineless like Tomlin.

    Second, Chris Simms said Ben is wrong for calling out his players in the media. I agree with that. The problem is everyone is walking on eggshells because of AB’s fragility. If AB thinks it’s ridiculous that Ben is calling the shots, take a look at the Patriots. How many times have we seen Tom Brady get in the face of a teammate. It happens often. NEVER have I seen the teammate do anything but take it because I get the feeling Bill would take immediate action. Rightfully so. When you have an elite QB who is the team leader, you keep your mouth shut. Tomlin has fostered an attitude on the team that everyone is buddy buddy and that is more important than winning. The dysfunction starts with Tomlin. If he had any backbone this would have never happened. He should have nipped it in the bud before the first time instead of letting it spiral out of control.

  8. The Steelers really have no choice. They need to do something. Otherwise it is just reinforcing the notion that the front office has lost control of the team. AB, a monster of their own creation … has come home to roost. The Rooney’s really need to take stock of how that team is being run.

  9. Submit to the will? Sounds bad. Conduct detrimental to the team? Is that like using a radio show to criticize your teammates? Selective enforcement does not look or go over well.

  10. In addition, Rooney could seek help from Goodell by encouraging him to hand down a suspension for the reported domestic incident. And would that then give the Steelers the ammo to go after some of AB’s signing bonus?

    I’m surprised that teams haven’t done a better job protecting themselves from this kind of behavior. Players should have the freedom to request a trade. What they shouldn’t be able to do is burn bridges and sabotage their trade value in an effort to get out. Or, when they do, the team needs to be able to go after guaranteed money

  11. It’s about time that an Owner takes a stand against a spoiler brat millionaire player. AB might be underpaid in his opinion, or even disrespected by his QB ( in his opinion) BUT… all of us readers are at jobs that if we did or acted like him we wouldn’t have jobs or at least, suspended.

    As an Eagles fan we dealt with T. Owens driveway situps. I was upset we wouldn’t have him and probably a Superbowl or two but, Andy Reid did the right thing by sending him home and fining him. The one part the Eagles should have done was not give him his way. These players need to realize they are not better then anybody else and they are are replaceable. Mr Rooney is the one owner who could play hardball with AB and not be considered a bad guy. Maybe even set the standard for these spoiled players by saying..You’re part of a team and under contract and paid well for it. Grow up or be fined and suspended and play out your contract HERE or don’t play football ANYWHERE.

  12. Good God I hope Pittsburgh doesn’t do that. The daily Leveon articles last season were bad enough, can only imagine how awful the hourly “Will Brown show up to practice today” articles would be

  13. Perhaps they can wait until week 1 when he will presumably still be engaging in this type of childish behavior and there won’t be any question if such a fine/suspension would be acceptable.

    It would obviously be best for the Steelers to trade him away and be done with it. The amount of drama in the Steelers locker room has to be distracting and is probably why they were watching the playoffs from home last season.

  14. Trade him to the Cardinals.

    The best form of payback available. By the time his new team has a chance to be relevant his career will be over.

  15. Tough rope to walk for Steelers. Letting him to continue to act like a world class clown sets a bad precedent not only for them but the nfl et large. It makes sense to take Florios advice while in the mean time still fielding trade options which have probably plummeted to a ham sandwich. At any rate they need to send a message.

  16. Can’t the Stillerz simply just suspend Brown for leaving the stadium at half time during the Bengals game? Or does the CBA allow an inactive player to leave without discipline?

  17. AB is a lost cause either way, and at 31 he will be out of the NFL in a few short years anyway. The Steelers have to think about what signal they send to the rest of the league, any free agents, and their own team.

    Clearly, AB was coddled and protected and given special privileges. That will ALWAYS blow up in the long run. Hopefully the Rooneys and/or Tomlin learned a lesson here.

  18. Trade him to the Washington Numbskins. Let him experience what intentionally ignoring wide receivers is like. With Alice Smith in there with legs that were nearly the same length (that means he was “healthy”), Alice didn’t seem like he even knew he had wide receivers on the team.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.