There is the small matter, however, of their history before becoming teammates.
Via Peter King of NBC’s Football Morning in America, Gruden had the former Steelers-Bengals rivals join forces in a team-building version of “Family Feud” during OTAs.
“They’re good,” Gruden said. “We played Family Feud one day in our team meeting. We had three guys on one team, three guys on the other. Our version of “Family Feud.” Silver team and a Black team. The Silver team was Antonio Brown, Vontaze Burfict and I think we had Isaiah Crowell on the team.
“You gotta try to get these guys to know each other. This is the only time that you can really do that. April, May, June. It’s almost like church. Everybody stand up. Shake a hand, introduce yourself to your teammates. Otherwise, Peter never gets to know Jon and Jon never meets Joe.”
Gruden described it as “a helluva game,” and that’s also one way of describing the Burfict-Brown relationship before they became teammates. The former Bengals linebacker knocked Brown out in a playoff game, just one of the times he and the Steelers were at odds over Burfict’s over-the-top style.
But Gruden went on and on about the “energy” Brown brought to the team, while mentioning Burfict “talking trash at us down the hall” at their facility. It’s a fascinating dynamic, and Gruden’s going to have to be at his Richard Dawson-best as a host to make it work.