Mark Madden: Portraying Steelers’ Antonio Brown as a victim is laughable
ESPN will broadcast a lengthy interview with Antonio Brown.
Get out your shovels and a clothespin for your nose. The horse flop will be deep.
Samples of Brown’s long-awaited revelations have been broadcast. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert provided a hole, and Brown drove a semi right through it.
Colbert referred to the Steelers as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and “52 kids.” That’s a poor choice of words, even if Colbert meant no insult.
Colbert since has clarified (or backtracked), but the damage was done. Colbert called grown men “kids,” and Brown jumped all over it.
“What grown man is calling another grown man a kid?” Brown said. “Fifty-two kids. Like, you don’t have no respect for these guys? That’s my issue. It’s all about respect. He just stated it. There’s 52 kids and it’s this guy (Roethlisberger). Bro, it’s one team.”
Brown sounds like he’s right. But he’s not, bro.
It’s absolutely laughable to hear Brown preach about the virtues of “team.” Brown lived at a house during training camp. The rest of the Steelers (including Roethlisberger) resided in the dorms at Saint Vincent College. Brown often missed meetings. He went AWOL three times during the season, including when he skipped out on Week 17.
Brown is all about his own brand and burnished it at the expense of the Steelers — yes, the “team” — for the last half-decade. He frequently set himself apart.
But Colbert used the term “kids,” and Brown made himself the victim.
He’s quite good at doing that. Brown has turned the national media in his favor as he prepares to exit Pittsburgh. He’s villainized Roethlisberger and the Steelers while christening himself the aggrieved party, doing so with precious little logic or evidence.
Former Steeler Ryan Clark addressed the phenomenon on ESPN: “If you’re a black ex-player, you’re made to feel like you should support everything that’s black.” Brown, of course, referred to Clark as an “Uncle Tom.”
There’s no mistaking the racial dynamic subtly injected by Brown. He said Roethlisberger has an “owner’s mentality.” In the ESPN interview, he talks about cultural problems in the Steelers locker room. That leaves much open for interpretation. AB has made this drama about him being kept down … for whatever reason.
Colbert mostly praised Brown in his recent press briefings. He said Brown “acted out” at season’s end because he was distraught by the Steelers missing the playoffs. But the “acting out” started long before the Steelers got eliminated.
Colbert is just trying to increase whatever return the Steelers will get for Brown in a trade. Will the ESPN interview help or hinder?
Interest in Brown seems lukewarm, to hear GMs and coaches talk. The only person interested in bringing Brown to San Francisco is apparently Jerry Rice, and he’s neither the 49ers GM nor coach. Odell Beckham Jr. may also be available for acquisition. Beckham is also a handful, but he’s 26. He would be any team’s first choice.
Brown wants more money. That has been his primary cause all along. Not respect, but cash. If Brown’s new team doesn’t immediately give him the lucrative new contract he wants, the trouble starts then and there.
Moving forward, Colbert said the Steelers need to manage young players better on their way to being superstars.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is a good place to start.
Smith-Schuster makes us feel his ubiquity via social media. He can’t be faulted for maximizing his endorsement income.
But perhaps the camera doesn’t need to be everywhere. Perhaps Smith-Schuster’s brand should be secondary to the Steelers’ brand. That’s a line Brown crossed.
Those who think fun is the primary goal and should be had every second are doubtless bleating in protest as they read this. Those people once defended Brown because he was just having fun. But Brown’s fun became constant and all-consuming and ultimately swiveled to selfish and egocentric.
If you look at Smith-Schuster now and don’t see Brown then, you just don’t want to. Smith-Schuster is laying the same groundwork. The frequent cry for attention is about the same. Wait until Smith-Schuster gets big money.
Smith-Schuster just started a foundation. That’s wonderful. Philanthropy is the new marketing.