Starkey: Word of advice for Steelers: Zip it
By Joe Starkey
Published: Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 9:40 p.m.
Antonio Brown should add a line to his signature mantra, the one that goes, “Chest up. Eyes up. Prayed up.”
How about shut up?
Brown should put the amended phrase in a place where he can't help but see it dozens of times each day. Like his mirror. And since he obviously considers himself a Steelers spokesperson — even though he's been a full-time starter for all of one underachieving season, which he helped to sabotage — he should tweet out the new mantra to his teammates …
Chest up. Eyes up. Prayed up. SHUT UP!
Man, do the Steelers like to talk. They've become the new Ravens, minus the winning. You'd think a second consecutive season without a playoff victory would have them sufficiently humbled. But they just keep talking.
They just keep embarrassing the organization.
In the process, they are basically mocking coach Mike Tomlin. If there is one thing Tomlin hates — besides the media — it's players airing their dirty laundry in public.
Remember when reckless tweeting infiltrated the NFL? Tomlin said he didn't mind his players participating in social media as long as they didn't discuss team business. He didn't want them “talking shop.”
Now look: One by one, Steelers players are publicly sniping at each other and telling the world of a “fractured” locker room, the word Ryan Clark used on NFL Network.
The report of an anonymous Steelers player ripping LaMarr Woodley would have died a quiet death — with Woodley the only victim — if not for teammates throwing logs on the fire.
Clark spoke of how the locker room isn't the way it used to be, when leaders such as Joey Porter reigned.
Larry Foote went next, on 93.7 The Fan, blasting teammates for being too friendly with the Ravens. Was he indirectly calling out Clark, who visited the Ravens' locker room after Baltimore's win at Heinz Field and chatted up old friend Ed Reed?
Hard to tell, but this is what Foote said: “You see guys joking with (the Ravens) too much. I'd see guys talking to them by their bus. I remember back in the day we'd be fighting with them in the tunnel. … Guys need to get back to that hatred.”
Then along came “Look-at-Me Brown,'' the guy who ran 20 yards backward against the Redskins, giddily making the rounds at ESPN's Bristol studios and announcing on live television that Steelers players are selfish and that “guys weren't really together.”
Of the Woodley criticism, Brown said, “Just shows you the men we had in that locker room.”
Wow. Antonio Brown pontificating about selflessness.
Brown's the same guy who made season-changing turnovers at Oakland and Dallas. The same guy who played the entire Cowboys game as if his brain had been removed beforehand. Same guy seen laughing with Reed on the sidelines, during the aforementioned Ravens game, as teammate Jerricho Cotchery lay motionless and injured behind him.
Asked if individual agendas had crept in with the Steelers, Brown said, “Definitely.” He should have said, “Yes, and I was guilty of it. Did you see me run backward into the end zone?”
Instead of taking personal responsibility, the way a real leader would, Brown spilled a bunch of drivel about how the Steelers weren't as closely bonded as the Ravens.
Quick question: Do you think we'd be talking about a fractured locker room if Ben Roethlisberger and several other high-impact players hadn't missed multiple games?
Quick follow-up: Think Clark and Brown would be lauding the Ravens' camaraderie if Rahim Moore hadn't made sports' most incomprehensible defensive gaffe since Bill Buckner in 1986?
Maybe the Steelers are partly to blame for Brown's ego, which is expanding faster than Woodley's thighs. Maybe they gave him too much too soon.
Brown's teammates named him MVP in 2011, eschewing others for a player who wasn't yet a full-time starter. Management subsequently lavished Brown (and his then-two career touchdown catches) with a $42.5 million contract.
Now, Brown is likely to be handed the No. 1 receiver spot after a season in which he failed to record a 100-yard game.
Does he look like No. 1 receiver to you?
We'll see what kind of tone Tomlin sets in training camp, coming off two profound failures and an offseason in which his players blatantly ignored one of his more precious dictums.
Maybe the coach could start by stationing Brown at the gates of Saint Vincent with a giant sign that teammates couldn't help but see on their drive to the dorms:
Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 “The Fan.'' His column appears Thursdays and Sundays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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