John Steigerwald: Players need to shut up, grow up and play |

John Steigerwald: Players need to shut up, grow up and play

John Steigerwald
Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown

The word is that Antonio Brown and Steelers president Art Rooney II will meet face-to-face in Florida this week, possibly at Brown’s home. If so, the conversation could/should go something like this.

ROONEY: Antonio, nice place you got here. Great view. Not sure if it was a good idea to throw the furniture from this high up but …

BROWN: That never happened.

ROONEY: OK, let’s move on. By the way, I like the new look. Was the blue hair and blond mustache your idea?

BROWN: None of your business.

ROONEY: You’re right. Sorry. Speaking of business, what’s this I hear about you moving on from the Steelers?

BROWN: Yeah. I think it’s time. No offense, but Ben has an owner’s mentality, and I don’t think it’s a good situation for me.

ROONEY: You do realize that you’re under contract to play for the Steelers until 2022, right? And you’re aware that we gave you a $19 million signing bonus and you’re making $17 million a year, correct?

BROWN: Yeah, but Ben …

ROONEY: Yeah, we’re gonna pay Ben at least $17 million next season, depending on the extension we’re probably going to offer him. Anyway, he made $17 million last year. That’s $34 million we’re paying you two guys. Would it be too much to ask for both of you to just shut up and play?

BROWN: Ben disrespected me. I need respect.

ROONEY: Maybe the $68 million I’ve committed to paying you should be all the respect you need. And I don’t need you tweeting pictures of yourself in a 49ers uniform.

BROWN: I think it’s time to move on.

ROONEY: That’s nice. I think it’s time for me to let you know how this is going to work. I’m the guy paying you $17 million a year. I gave you a $19 million signing bonus because I believed you were a good investment. I’m the boss. You are on the books to make $17 million if you play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. You’ve done a great job of reducing your value with your idiotic tweets. There will be no trade. If you play football next year, it will be for the Steelers and nobody else. So I suggest you show up for minicamp — and training camp — where you’ll be staying in the dormitory with everybody else, by the way. If you don’t show up for our first game, you won’t be paid. Your choice. Shut up and play for the Pittsburgh Steelers for $17 million or don’t play for anybody and make nothing. Don’t get up. I’ll see myself out.

BROWN: But my agent is Drew Rosenhaus, and he says …

ROONEY: He knows my number. Tell him to call me, and I’ll tell him what I told you. You play for the Steelers in 2019, or you don’t play and he has nothing to say about it.

Will their conversation sound anything like that? Probably not, but it should. Brown has been doing everything he can to make himself toxic to the Steelers, including putting the blame on the franchise quarterback.

The Steelers can take the easy way out and trade Brown for a second-day draft pick, who, unless he is a serious rookie of the year candidate, will have very little to do with their success in 2019. The message will have been sent to everybody on the roster and every player on every future roster that, if you don’t like the coach or the quarterback or the owner, take your complaints to Twitter, and you’ll be on another team in no time.

Steelers fans already have taken to burning Brown’s jerseys, and most will be happy to see him go but he’s an irreplaceable talent and should be catching passes from Roethlisberger again next year. Mike Tomlin should address the problem the first time the team is together and tell everybody to grow up, shut up and play.

The players should grow up, shut up and play.

Rooney should announce as soon as possible that he’s made his decision. There will be no trade, and Brown has two choices. Show up or don’t get paid. And Rooney should announce, for the sake of every football fan in North America, that he will have nothing more to say on the subject again.


John Steigerwald is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.