Steelers need to slam the door on players talking their way out of town

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Antonio Brown isn’t the first guy to finagle a path out of Pittsburgh in recent years, but he needs to be the last.

It’s now obvious that the Steelers lost this one, badly. For all the bluster about insisting on “significant compensation” for Brown and not rushing to trade him before a $2.5 million roster bonus comes due on March 17, the Steelers ultimately took the best deal they could get: A third-round pick and a fifth-round pick.

Given that they got a third-round pick a year ago for receiver Martavis Bryant, they should have gotten far more than a three and a five for one of the best receivers in the league. And they didn’t, not just because Brown wanted to go but because the Steelers decided that they needed to him to leave. And they needed him to leave because they allowed him to morph into a guy who became a problem that only could be solved with a one-way ticket out of town.

In 2010, Brown arrived as a sixth-round pick from Central Michigan. During Super Bowl week, I asked Cameron Heyward — a first-rounder in 2011 who had much better cause to act like a diva — how Brown became bigger than the team. “I don’t know how it happened,” Heyward said.

It happened because management allowed it to happen, rewarding Brown financially in 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2017 while plenty of the things that came to light in recent years surely were going on, from tardiness to setting up his own off-campus residence during training camp. His last payday, which began with a $19 million signing bonus and continued with a 2018 restructuring bonus of nearly $13 million, came only weeks after he opted to launch a Facebook Live stream from the locker room after a playoff win (capturing among other things coach Mike Tomlin referring to the Patriots as “assholes“), and after reports emerged of Brown pouting because he wasn’t getting the ball as much as he wanted it during the AFC title game.

They can’t be surprised that Brown felt like the contract he received two years ago vindicated his antics. And they also can’t be surprised that players like Brown would think that misbehavior has its rewards. In 2014 (as Andrew Fillipponi reminded me during a Friday visit to his 93.7 The Fan afternoon-drive show), running back LeGarrette Blount seemed to orchestrate his release from the Steelers, so that he could return to the Patriots — something he didn’t deny when asked about it during the week preceding Super Bowl XLIX. Linebacker James Harrison reportedly slept his way out of Pittsburgh in 2017.

Ultimately, this kind of stuff flows right back to Tomlin, who seat surely has gotten a lot hotter now that his mismanagement of Brown will result in the Steelers enduring a public humiliation, along with the loss of a highly talented player. But it also flows up the chain of command to ownership, which seems to have allowed the three-coaches-in-50-years thing to become so much of the franchise’s identity that Tomlin has never had to fear the ultimate consequence for failing to get the most out of one of the most talented teams in football.

Moving forward, things must change. Who knows how many more Lombardi Trophies the Steelers would have won if true accountability had resided in that locker room over the last five years? Instead, the team that has become the embodiment of football accountability has now caught the Steelers with six Super Bowl wins, and that Patriots seem to be much better suited than the Steelers to be the first to No. 7.

81 responses to “Steelers need to slam the door on players talking their way out of town

  1. Starts with the front office / coaching staff. This is a business, like any other, management dictates the culture. By example AND by showing what they will or won’t tolerate.

  2. Agreed. The Steelers, once one of the most solid, respected, buttoned downed franchises in the NFL have now turned into ladies night at the local bar. Their culture needs to be revived. That wont happen with Tomlin.

  3. In that the Cards going back to Ken Whisenhunt thru Bruce Arians and onward have been obsessed with signing former Steelers, they can’t view this as a good idea…

  4. Tomlin is so far underwater, he needs a 10-foot straw to reach the surface! The Steelers team has been way too talented to fail like they have. But don’t forget the owner. When you tell your quarterback he can rip players publicly with no consequences, a good locker room is impossible.

  5. Tomlin, Tomlin, Tomlin. Meh. The fact of the matter is many other coaches not named Belichick wouldn’t have fared much better with the head cases that team brings in. But sure, blame the coach, while the GM gets a free pass.

  6. You’re right about accountability and discipline issues. Tomlin mismanaged the Harrison situation, and clearly this situation with Brown has been a mess. But Tomlin’s career doesn’t rest on a “three coaches in 50 years” identity. It rests on the fact that he has the third highest regular-season winning percentage in the league behind only Belichick and Reid. The man has won two AFC Championships and one Super Bowl–and did it in considerably less time than Bill Cowher. If you fire Tomlin, who’s going to replace him? It’s not like there’s a pool of fabulous coaches just waiting to be tapped.

    And whatever mistakes Tomlin has made, he’s not responsible for trading a top-three receiver to the Raiders for a third- and a fifth-round pick. That’s on Rooney and Colbert. Coaches can be replaced. My concern is whether Rooney has his dad’s talent for running a team.

  7. This is not on Tomlin. He doesn’t negotiate contracts or approve his job is to win with the players he has and keep them on the field. I think it will be safe to say Tomlins seat may be hot but its not the only one.

  8. When you give players a long leash then try to reel them in, there will be consequences. Players coaches are fine and dandy until the players grab control and run a much.

  9. Sure, the front office is culpable, too. I just think Tomlin is not qualified to lead men, and there’s obvious evidence to support it.

  10. The Steelers have 6 Lombardi Trophies sitting in their trophy case. The Rooney family walks past them every day on their way to their office, and that reinforces the notion that they know what they’re doing. The Steelers’ organization doesn’t give complete control to the head coach. Only a few teams do, and one of those teams, The Patriots, have been very successful. But the Pats have won all 6 of their rings with the same coach and same QB, while the Steelers have won their 6 rings with 3 different coaches and two different QB’s. There are plusses and minuses for both management styles, but Tomlin doesn’t have the same power to keep players in line that Belichick does. So when you look at the number of super bowl trophies the Steelers have won, and compare it to the other 32 teams, I’d say the Steelers have a pretty good blue print on how to run a football team. Also, none of those 6 trophies were won with Antonio Brown on the team. I don’t think the sky is falling in Pittsburgh, and I don’t think Mike Tomlin is a problem. He’s been one of the winningest coaches in the NFL. Now Antonio Brown will be playing for one of those teams that do give the coach complete control, so I expect Brown to be a model teammate.

  11. Moving forward, things must change. Who knows how many more Lombardi Trophies the Steelers would have won if true accountability had resided in that locker room over the last five years? Instead, the team that has become the embodiment of football accountability has now caught the Steelers with six Super Bowl wins, and that Patriots seem to be much better suited than the Steelers to be the first to No. 7.

    This is so true. For the last several years, it seemed the Steelers were the only team set up to legitimately counter the Patriots dominance of the AFC. Now? Not so much…

  12. This is what happens when you subscribe to a “player’s coach” philosophy. It enables negative behaviors and underachievers. They never maximize talent or opportunity.

  13. So…the GM drafts the best available athlete, top players act as they choose because the coach allows it, the coach allows it because the GM not only tolerates it but continues gathering talent rather than building a team, the GM is secure because…why? But yeah it’s all Tomlin’s fault, lol. Truth is there’s plenty of blame to go around

  14. Two cancers are gone. Their somebodies else’s problem and the Steelers will enjoy watching some other teams movie. They will get better because of it.

  15. As a Steelers’ fan, it infuriates me to say this…the article is largely correct. The Steelers have allowed this crap to continue, and even nurtured bad behaviors in some ways. Brown being the most obvious. Could you have seen the look on Belichick’s face if TB had said “hey coach, I’m gonna fly into camp on a chopper, and land on the field.” Me neither, because it would never happen, and no player on that team thinks that way. If they start getting too big for their britches, they are traded or cut loose, with, seemingly, no regrets. That’s the way the Steelers used to do business, and they better get back to that strategy real quick like. I will always root for the Steelers, but I long ago quit supporting these guys egos by buying merchandise.

  16. Steelers will never learn. They’ve messed up this team so badly all they have left is Little Overrated Ben (LOB) and their obnoxious, unruly fans.

  17. And you didn’t even mention the 21 million dollar charge. If my coach cost my team $21 million for nothing I’d seriously consider showing him the door.

  18. Exapno Mapcase says:…QB accusations.

    Do you realize any accusations – which by the way, he was never charged- happened almost 10 yrs ago? Why don’t you just bring up Paul Hornungs gambling allegations while you are at it!

  19. Serious football fans realize Tomlins record is second only to Belicheat the last 12 years. Let that sink in…..who will do better? He doesn’t approve contracts he has power to a point…..which none of us know to what degree so blaming him is a knee jerk reaction for many a racially based one. The Rooneys bare the final responsibility and to say otherwise shows your shallow depth of field.

  20. If the reports about Tomlin’s conduct with Joey Porter in PA and the locker-room culture that seems to exist there are accurate, then he’s definitely Pittsburgh’s problem and he needs to go for them to move forward and revitalize the traditions there that made them successful in the first place.

  21. Why does Pitt allowed Ben to mouth off about another star player? That’s what caused the problem and it was decided by the owner, GM, and Brown that a fresh start was best. Since, they continue to cater to Ben, a fresh start is best.

  22. “but Tomlin doesn’t have the same power to keep players in line that Belichick”. But everyone agrees he’s a better player’s coach/cheerleader than Belichick, and he can’t even get that right.

  23. The Raiders giving away a 3rd Rounder for MBryant was an absolute goof on their part.

    Anyone using it for comparison purposes to the ABrown trade is likewise an absolute goof.

    Albert Breer has a great article about the AB trade in SI MMQB today.

    Read it and perhaps you’ll understand what went down and why it did.

    The Steelers got the best deal they could given the terrible situation AB put them in.

    BTW, the 3rd rounder is the 2nd pick in that round, and the 5th rounder is the third pick in that round.

    The Steelers will be a better team for years to come without AB and with an infusion of new, young talent.

  24. @nofool – his record is only that good because cowher set the table for him – both players and assistant coaches. He would’ve been 2 and done at best anywhere else.

  25. Why does Pitt allow Ben to mouth off about another star player? That’s what caused the problem and it was decided by the owner, GM, and Brown that a fresh start was best. Since, they want to continue catering to Ben, a fresh start is best for Brown.

  26. Remember when the Cowboys fleeced the Vikings and got a kings ransom in return for Hershel Walker, and set the table for 3 Superbowls?

    Well this shameful debacle is like the complete polar opposite of that.

  27. Mike Tomlin has long been viewed as a players coach. Terry Bradshaw called him a “Cheerleader” .. but there are other issues in the Steelers organization. General Manager Kevin Colbert came out and said that it’s perfectly ok for Roethlisberger to throw his teammates under the buss on public airwaves instead of pulling them aside and talking to them man to man .. Actually he referred to Ben’s teammates as kids. Even said it was Ok for Ben to call out him.

  28. Browns fan here…it’s shocking to see the disarray in the Steelers that back in was a tough and disciplined team. If I were a Steelers fan, I’d be really pissed off at both the front office and Tomlin. They collectively allowed diva players such as AB, Bell, and Big Ben to run the team instead of the front office and the coaches as it should be. AB’s antics should have been NIPPED IN THE BUD YEARS AGO instead of allowing him to get away with his antics. Additionally Big Ben should not have been allowed to publicly humiliate team members via social media. Disciplining players should be done by the front office/coaches. All internal disagreements should be kept IN-HOUSE. No players, no matter how good/talented should be allowed to place himself above the TEAM as a whole.

  29. Ben Roethlisberger was Bill Cowhers baby. Ben Roethlisberger is aloud to call anyone out, including management. Ben is the link from the old regime. I’m glad AB is gone, he could’ve handled his situation a lot differently but that’s his way. Ben is the problem, if he’s aloud to call out management, Mike Tomlin defiantly doesn’t have 100% control then over his team. So Management is sticking with the old regimes way lead by Roethlisberger, and he defiantly wasn’t towing the company line back then. Was called out by a ton of veterans(privately). Bens never demonstrated leadership qualities, yes he made a wise decision to straighten his life around, but he isn’t a leader of men. I’m looking forward to Ben retiring and seeing what actually happens when Mike Tomlin isn’t fighting the old regime. Hopefully Mike Tomlin has learned from his own Superstar in AB in the future on how to discipline men and not say “what am I supposed to do, bench Antonio Brown.”

  30. Browns fan here…it’s shocking to see the disarray in the Steelers that back in the day was a tough and disciplined team. If I were a Steelers fan, I’d be really pissed off at both the front office and Tomlin. They collectively allowed diva players such as AB, Bell, and Big Ben to run the team instead of the front office and the coaches as it should be. AB’s antics should have been NIPPED IN THE BUD YEARS AGO instead of allowing him to get away with his antics. Additionally Big Ben should not have been allowed to publicly humiliate team members via social media. Disciplining players should be done by the front office/coaches. All internal disagreements should be kept IN-HOUSE. No players, no matter how good/talented should be allowed to place himself above the TEAM as a whole. (Corrected typos)

  31. Feel bad for Steeler Nation! I would be embarrassed to cheer for this team. This is 100% on Coaching, instead of trying to be a”buddy” to these young men, he needs to be a leader. Leaders hold people accountable and maintain a culture of integrity. They don’t tolerate disrespect but rather they eliminate it. This is all on Tomlin. This game that was allowed to played by AB should never had been. He made a mockery of his team and its management and ultimately was allowed to be rewarded.

  32. Steelers need to slam the door on players talking their way out of town

    __________________________________________

    It’s a little late for that now that Brown kicked the door off of the hinges!

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>E-N-J-O-Y!<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

  33. Steelers slinking off from Brown deal with their tail between their legs. Better get their management of the players sorted out or they won’t be winning anything any time soon

  34. Way to invoke the race card. It’s the first sign that you’ve lost the argument. It’s such a common play these days that very few take it seriously, including me.

  35. During tomlins Era look at all the talent this man has had to work with and people say he won a SB.His players do not respect him. AB did the Facebook thing but the players around him were laughing just as much as he was.The players run that team and that reflects on the coach who himself has said that he put up with it because of production.Now look at what they have.Who is supposed to right the ship?The same one who ran it aground? Yeah that will work.

  36. This GM is running all the talent out of town. Say what you want about AB, the dude can flat out play. Same thing with Bell. Perhaps it is something wrong with the environment is so many people want to leave

  37. Nofoolnodrool says:
    March 10, 2019 at 3:31 pm
    This is not on Tomlin. He doesn’t negotiate contracts or approve his job is to win with the players he has and keep them on the field. I think it will be safe to say Tomlins seat may be hot but its not the only one.
    ——————————————————
    Yes, it is on Tomlin. He has created a culture that devalues players and puts the GM in an unwinnable position. Once the Cowher-era guys retired, the accountability slowly went out the window. This is now what the Steelers are.

  38. The easiest fix is to keep locker room problems….. in the locker room. Dont let Ben talk trash about other players on the Radio. Dont let players talk about other players contract situations, its really not hard.

    For a 3rd and a 5th, the Steelers should have kept Brown.

  39. This is Mike Tomlin’s fault for instituting absolutely ZERO discipline and letting the inmates run the asylum to the point where the Pittsburgh Steelers have actually become the laughing stock of the NFL. It’s also Art Rooney’s fault for stubbornly sticking with this guy. I’m among MANY when I say I’ve seen this coming for years. Are they afraid it will make the Rooney rule look bad by kicking this rotten apple to the curb once and for all? I just don’t get it.

  40. To be sure that I’m reading the playbill for the drama in Pittsburgh correctly – Mike Tomlin, The Villain and Antonio Brown, The Ingenue Driven to Bad Behavior?

  41. The Steelers have not won a Super Bowl in 10 years, the last one they won , TB12 the GOAT was out for the season, coincidence??? They did not even make the playoffs this past season!
    Yet certain fans keep saying how great a coach Trip Tomlin is, low standards in Pittsburgh!

  42. AB has won. Expect other players to take his scorched earth path in the future. Good for the player but bad for the NFL.

  43. The true plum in all this is Mike Mayock. He fleeced the Steelers. The Steelers should have played hard ball and taken the Bell route and forced the diva to sit out a year. Mayock going to lead the Raiders to greatness.

  44. At least it’s over and we don’t have to listen to the nonsense anymore. Should be interesting with Gruden and AB.
    Two people with huge egos.

  45. They could start with getting rid of Tomlin and hire a coach with some backbone. Tomlin let AB walk all over him and Tomlin didn’t have the guts to do anything about it. That’s unacceptable behavior from a coach.

  46. thinredline69 says:
    March 10, 2019 at 5:06 pm
    This is Mike Tomlin’s fault for instituting absolutely ZERO discipline and letting the inmates run the asylum to the point where the Pittsburgh Steelers have actually become the laughing stock of the NFL. It’s also Art Rooney’s fault for stubbornly sticking with this guy. I’m among MANY when I say I’ve seen this coming for years. Are they afraid it will make the Rooney rule look bad by kicking this rotten apple to the curb once and for all? I just don’t get it.
    _____________________________________________________________________________

    I almost fell over when I read this! I was going to post the EXACT SAME THING!! Spot on my man, spot on!!

  47. i love the part about the pats being the model of accountability. sure, it’s been obvious for 18 years, but i enjoy welcoming the newly saved.

  48. It’s funny to hear Steeler’s fans talking like the nightmare is finally over, but it’s just beginning. You never addressed the real problem with the team. You still have a good GM that can find good players, but he can’t keep from saying really stupid things in public. You have a QB that thinks he’s the guy running the show, can throw players under the bus on tv and radio with out any accountability or consequences, and just threaten to retire to get his way at anytime to screw over the team. Then you have a coach who has no control over the players or team. Where the heck has Tomlin been through all this dysfunction and noise…haven’t heard hyde not hair?
    The Steelers didn’t address the real problem with the team. Ben and Tomlin are the real reason for this dumpster fire of a team. It’s ok, this should be fun to watch things work themselves out and be thankful that I’m not a Steelers fan. Couldn’t happen to a better franchise.

  49. Nofoolnodrool says:
    March 10, 2019 at 4:11 pm
    Serious football fans realize Tomlins record is second only to Belicheat the last 12 years. Let that sink in…..who will do better? He doesn’t approve contracts he has power to a point…..which none of us know to what degree so blaming him is a knee jerk reaction for many a racially based one. The Rooneys bare the final responsibility and to say otherwise shows your shallow depth of field.

    —————————
    Who the heck is Belicheat, and how does he relate to Tomlin?

  50. Wait until Brown starts problems for the raiders. The Steelers will not only have swindled the raiders out of 1 3rd round pick(Martavis byrant) but it’ll be two with Brown. Its just a matter of time.

  51. They should have closed the door before now. Their answer to Brown should have been, “We’ve already paid you $70 million dollars. You signed a contract. You can sit at home until it’s over and pay back what you owe us.”

    The only way this makes sense is if team leadership, from every coach up through the owner, has decided that things will be different from now on, and this is the cost to eat to flush their prior mistakes.

    Every other scenario makes this cringe-inducingly stupid on the part of the Steelers.

  52. steelcurtainn says:
    March 10, 2019 at 7:48 pm
    The Browns will win the SB before Pitts does.
    _______________________________________________
    Good one, you realize you did say the browns, right.

    ————————————————————————————————-

    Hey Steelcurtainn – Yes we are talking about the Browns winning a Super Bowl before the Steelers do. We are not talking about “the same old Browns here. We finally have a GM who knows how to build a championship caliber team and a QB who knows how to win and his name is BAKER MAYFIELD.

    What do the Steelers have at the moment? A front office and coach that lets iits star players get away with murder and then give the Steelers the middle finger on the way out the door either in exchange for nothing (Bell) or 3rd and 5th round picks (AB). What’s left is an aging QB and a talented receiver (JuJu) that will now draw more DB attention now that Brown has left. There are other talented players across the roster but the Steelers are no longer the juggernaut they once were.

    I’m not guaranteeing the Browns will win a Super Bowl before the Steelers win their next one, however it is now entirely plausibie to say it’s POSSIBLE with a straight face.

  53. The Browns will win the SB before Pitts does.
    _______________________________________________
    Good one, you realize you did say the browns, right.
    =============================================
    The Cleveland Browns, yes.

  54. The Steelers had no idea when they drafted both Brown and Bell that they would turn out to be greedy MeFirst malcontents, guess what? these 2 are exceptions NOT the norm the problem was Coach Tomlin not doing his job and not bringing discipline when it was warranted (Brown) and the Steeler FO over valuing a player with outrageous salary demands(Bell) usually players don’t act out this bad but it could have happened to any team who drafted them

  55. not sure why nobody remembers this, or is talking about it, but the reason the steelers were even in a have to win to get in scenario is because juju fumbled the ball causing them to lose to the saints when they prolly had that game. then after he loses the game for them they decide that he is the team mvp, just so they can spite AB, and for no other reason. now granted AB is silly in all this, but now they have had three players, if the harrison story is true, that have wanted out of pitt so bad they were willing to do anything to make it happen. steelers fans can defend ben all they want and say hes not to blame, but he is the problem in all of this. he has nothing to gain to run his mouth to the radio about AB. i never once have seen brees, brady, or even jameis winston for that matter throw their teammate under the bus just bc they felt like it. so enjoy ben, and his permission slip he has been given to criticize anybody he sees fit. the steelers have been who they have on talent alone, not because their coach can out gameplan anybody. so now that the talent is leaving, what do you really think is going to happen?

  56. The Steelers had no idea when they drafted both Brown and Bell that they would turn out to be greedy MeFirst malcontents, guess what? these 2 are exceptions NOT the norm the problem was Coach Tomlin not doing his job and not bringing discipline when it was warranted (Brown) and the Steeler FO over valuing a player with outrageous salary demands(Bell) usually players don’t act out this bad but it could have happened to any team who drafted them

    ==================================

    nah. belichick would have let them leave or released them. and how is ben being a team first guy by ripping his mates publicly just becuase he feels like it? thats a true me first move. he throws a horrible pick to lose. then in the typical big ben me first move blames his wr when anybody with eyes could see who was to blame.

  57. Can’t say I blame any of these players! They got out while still ahead. Pit has issues nobody knows about inside . When you as a franchise tell top talent in the past like Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward to retire cause you will not be anything any where else we will make sure of it then these players are getting out before forced to give up. Inner motives in Pit .What’s next?

  58. So two guys who love themselves, as demonstrated on their constant use of social media, didn’t like the situations that they put themselves in. I doubt that there will be an exodus out of Pittsburgh by players. You had two anomalies.

  59. Dude is top shelf talent. Wanted to get paid, and play someplace else. Only in Football can you be fired and without compensation, but can’t break your contract if you are not happy. AB took a page from the NBA. I’m a star, I make you a ton of money, pay me or let me leave.

  60. Comments by L.S. Above are correct , You have Ben who does and says what he wants without any accountability, and Coach Tomlin who chooses to ignore instead of confronting, yes they have talent and a winning record but damn nasty mess of a team culture, glad I’m not a Steeler fan.

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