Late-season rift with Antonio Brown was ‘confusing’ to Ben Roethlisberger
For a long time after the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended, Ben Roethlisberger thought he would get a chance to make up with wide receiver Antonio Brown.
That ended when the Steelers acquiesced to Brown’s trade request and sent him to the Oakland Raiders on March 10.
“Once he was gone, that’s not my style to come out and say anything, so I focused on the guys we have here moving forward,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday. “That’s what is most important for me now.”
After the first day of organized team activities, Roethlisberger met with reporters and expanded on comments he made to KDKA-TV in an interview that aired Monday in which he addressed the criticism leveled at him by Brown.
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“For a lot of the offseason I thought he was coming back,” Roethlisberger said. “Nobody knew what really was going to happen. I anticipated we would have a chance to get together and to talk because I thought he would be back on this team.”
Brown skipped practices during the final week of the season and apparently was upset by an incident that occurred in a Wednesday walkthrough. According to reports, Brown was upset that Roethlisberger asked him to run a play again, threw a football to the ground and walked off the field.
Roethlisberger said he spoke with Brown the next day and thought everything was fine.
“We hugged, we had a great talk and everything was good,” Roethlisberger said. “I knew nothing, so it was hard for me to know anything. And then I heard from a third party that there were issues, so I reached out to him many times.”
Roethlisberger said he texted and called Brown to no avail. Brown skipped the remainder of practices that week and was inactive for the game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“This was all before the season was over,” he said. “I never heard back to I could never really find out what was going on. For me, that’s what it was so confusing because I didn’t know where it came from.”
The previous week, which turned out to be Brown’s final game in a Steelers uniform, he caught 14 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
“He had an unbelievable game,” Roethlisberger said. “I never saw it coming. I would love to have had the chance to talk to him, and that’s why I said yesterday that whatever I did to offend him, I apologize for it. I tried to do it in person and talk to him, but he wouldn’t allow me to.”
Before he was traded, Brown went on Twitter and wrote that Roethlisberger had an “owner mentality” and teammates feared calling him out because Roethlisberger was their “meal ticket.”
“I didn’t even know what it meant, to tell you the truth,” Roethlisberger said about the ‘owner mentality’ accusation. “So I didn’t have much of a reaction to it.”
Brown also took exception when general manager Kevin Colbert called Roethlisberger the unquestioned leader of the Steelers and labeled the rest of the roster as “52 kids” because nobody else had won a Super Bowl with the Steelers.
Roethlisberger was amused by Colbert’s declaration
“I took it more that he thought I was old,” Roethlisberger said, laughing. “Thanks, Kevin, make me feel even older now. I didn’t take it as serious as other people did.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .