Contrite Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown says 'I've got to do better at controlling emotion'
Hanging just to the right of Antonio Brown's locker at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex is a photograph of the Steelers All-Pro receiver smiling with Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger autographed it under a message that reads: “AB, we are unstoppable.” Near the bottom is a caption: “The Dynamic Duo.”
On Friday, the receiver showed his appreciation for his quarterback in after-practice remarks that were one part apology and one part a display of admiration for Roethlisberger, who criticized Brown for his sideline tantrum in last Sunday's win at Baltimore.
“I never want to make a quarterback feel like I'm being a distraction or I've got any negativity toward him,” Brown said during his first time speaking with media this week, “because he's the guy who gave me the opportunity. He's the guy who's been in my corner since I got here, and I want to let him know I how grateful I am for him.”
Brown was upset when he wasn't targeted on a third-and-4 play in the second quarter of the 26-9 win. Upon returning to the sideline, Brown flipped over a Gatorade cooler and then brushed past offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Roethlisberger earlier this week on his 93.7 FM segment called the display a “distraction” and said he was “disappointed” in Brown's behavior.
For his part, Brown on Friday said he made the rounds in talking to Roethlisberger, Haley and coach Mike Tomlin about the incident, which has become the primary storyline for a week of preparation before Sunday's home game against Jacksonville (2-2) after last week's win in an early-season battle for first place.
Brown directed the most remorse toward Roethlisberger.
“I don't want him thinking I'm spazzing out (about him) because he does a great job of getting me the ball and giving me the best chances to make plays,” Brown said. “I've just got to control my emotions in regards on wanting to play well and understand I've got an effect on every guy here with my actions.”
Despite the pedestrian four-catch, 34-yard outing Sunday, Brown remains second in the NFL in receptions (30) and receiving yards (388). He's on pace for 120 receptions, which would make him the first player in league history with five consecutive 100-catch seasons and allow him to eclipse Marvin Harrison's record for most catches in a five-year span.
But this is the second time over the past nine months that Brown's on-field greatness has been overshadowed by a nonfootball incident in a stadium that drew ire from a teammate and/or coach and drew a public apology from Brown.
In January, Tomlin was livid when Brown broadcast his coach's postgame speech on Facebook Live and a curse word from Tomlin about the New England Patriots was heard.
That incident siphoned national attention from the Steelers' divisional-round playoff victory in Kansas City, similar to how, Brown noted, his Gatorade cooler toss detracted from a win that put the Steelers alone in first place.
“You're passionate, and you want to do well. It's a big rivalry game, but I've got to do better at controlling emotion,” Brown said. “I apologized for taking away from the bigger picture, which was us beating the Ravens. I don't want to wake up looking at the TV and (media) talking about me throwing a tantrum. We should be talking about Ben (and) a lot of guys who had a great game and the Steelers winning a big game on the road.”