Antonio Brown takes on Steelers in lengthy ESPN interview
INDIANAPOLIS — Mr. Big Chest had a lot to get off his, and he did it by opening up to ESPN in an interview televised Saturday morning.
Antonio Brown spoke at length about his drama-filled season with the Pittsburgh Steelers during an eight-and-a-half minute segment that aired on SportsCenter as part of a nearly 44-minute interview with reporter Jeff Darlington that was released on the network’s YouTube channel.
In the interview, the 30-year-old wide receiver:
• Criticized general manager Kevin Colbert, coach Mike Tomlin, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and even expressed displeasure with team president Art Rooney II.
• Repeated what he has expressed on social media: He wants a new contract from the team that trades for him.
• Played down the speeding ticket he received on McKnight Road in the North Hills for driving in excess of 100 mph.
• Accepted no share of the blame for his fractured relationship with the organization.
“I don’t take any blame,” Brown said. “I think I just took responsibility for my situation. I didn’t point the finger, I didn’t make no one look bad. I didn’t throw no stones at anyone.”
The Steelers are trying to grant Brown’s trade request, and ESPN identified the Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans as possible destinations.
Brown contradicted himself during the interview. At first, he was critical of Rooney II, saying the “owner” didn’t know the name of Brown’s father or girlfriend, which the receiver viewed as a slight because of his nine years with the organization. But in talking about his meeting last month with Rooney II in Florida, Brown was complimentary of his boss.
“Thanks for the opportunity, thanks for giving a 21-year-old kid an opportunity to live his dream and experience the NFL at a high level,” Brown said he told Rooney.
The interview included a tour of Brown’s roots in the rough Liberty City section of Miami. Speaking to his uncle, Brown said when he is traded, he is “going to get a new contract somewhere.” Brown criticized the Steelers for front-loading contracts that provides fewer dollars at the end of contracts. Brown has three years and about $39 million remaining on a deal that averaged $17 million when it was signed two years ago. None of his remaining seasons are guaranteed.
“When you get to the back end (of contracts),” Brown said, “they are playing these games.”
Later, Brown said he didn’t need to play football anymore for the money and vowed things will be different with his new team.
“If they want me to play, they’re gonna play by my rules,” he said. “If not, I don’t need to play.”
Brown never was asked about the legal cases in which he was accused of throwing furniture off a balcony at a Miami apartment complex and nearly striking a toddler or the recent allegation he pushed the mother of his daughter to the ground after a dispute at his house.
Brown, however, was asked about the speeding ticket he received on the morning of the team’s game against Carolina. Brown made light of the citation he received.
“Police pulled me over and said I was a suspect in a bank robbery,” Brown said. “I’m like, bro, I already robbed you guys legally.”
Of Roethlisberger, Brown lamented he visited the quarterback’s house just one time in nine seasons and vice versa.
“We don’t work out in the offseason,” Brown said. “If you really want to win, you think that’s winning? That’s not winning.”
The interview aired, coincidentally, on the day Roethlisberger turned 37. Brown also rekindled the issue he had with Roethlisberger’s calling him out for running a bad route on a last-minute interception in Denver.
“If I’m your guy, make me know I’m your guy, but don’t say I’m your guy and point fingers,” Brown said. “Don’t say I’m your guy and then don’t throw me the ball the whole first quarter.”
Brown also said that when he left training camp in August and returned to Miami to deal with an injury, Roethlisberger complained about his absence to Tomlin.
Brown said he didn’t practice during the week leading up to the season finale against Cincinnati was because Tomlin told him to “go home,” which baffled the wide receiver. Brown said his legs were sore from playing on the turf at the Superdome against the New Orleans Saints.
“I may need a couple days to get right,” Brown said he told his coach. “He said just go home if you’re sore. Go home? It’s the last game of the year.”
Tomlin said he tried to contact Brown throughout the week to no avail.
“Now everyone wants to have a meeting, they want to talk, he wants to invite me over to his house,” Brown said. “It’s the biggest game of the season, you’re saying go home because I’m sore? If I’m going to do something within the team, we have to be on the same page, we have to understand each other, we’ve got to know what we set out to do.”
Brown also admitted he left the game against the Bengals, when he was inactive, before it ended.
“Yeah, I left the game,” he said. “I’m standing with the guys, and my coach just told them I quit on them. I never quit on anything in my life.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .