Despite frustration with him, Ben Roethlisberger hopes Antonio Brown is back with Steelers
With the exception of saying that Antonio Brown is not returning his calls or texts, Ben Roethlisberger downplayed reports of a rift between himself and his longtime star receiver and insists he wants Brown back with the Steelers next season.
Speaking on his final KDKA-FM radio segment of the season Tuesday morning, Roethlisberger called Brown “an incredible talent” and “one of my best friends on the team.” On reports implying Brown threw a temper tantrum toward him at practice Wednesday, Roethlisberger said, “If there was a blow-up, I sure didn’t see it.”
Roethlisberger said that Brown left the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Wednesday but that on Thursday morning the two spoke “and everything was great and fine.” Since then, though, Brown has not communicated with Roethlisberger or, Roethlisberger said, many other teammates who have contacted him.
“I called and texted and reached out numerous times and tried to find out what going on,” Roethlisberger said, “but I really couldn’t get any answers.”
Brown, who had his sixth consecutive season of 100 catches and 1,200 receiving yards, did not play in Sunday’s season-ending win at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. He did not practice all week – Wednesday is his regular day off, and Thursday and Friday the Steelers listed him on their official injury report as having a knee injury.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Friday that Brown experienced “discomfort” during the prior Sunday’s game at New Orleans and that he was going for “testing” Friday.
The NFL Network reported Brown skipped the mandatory team Saturday walkthrough. Brown was not seen during warm-ups at Heinz Field on Sunday running to test his knee, and it is believed Brown did not play against the Bengals for disciplinary reasons.
“Coach made that decision right before the game,” Roethlisberger said on his radio segment.
Roethlisberger praised Brown repeatedly Tuesday, and he said that the relationship between Brown and the team is not irreparable.
“No, I think we’re just frustrated,” Roethlisberger said. “We want AB to play. He makes us all better. He had an amazing season this year. He makes me who I am. It’s really just about (lack of) communication is the biggest thing for a lot of us,
“I am blessed to play with him,” Roethlisberger said moments earlier. “He’s one of my closest friends on the team. AB and I have been together for a long time; I owe so much of my success to him and consider him a really close friend on the team…. I know some (teammates) are frustrated. I think the biggest thing is guys tried to reach out to him and haven’t heard back; that’s what’s frustrating to those guys.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .