Tomlin, Roethlisberger disappointed over Brown's live video
Calling it “foolish,” “selfish” and “inconsiderate,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin admonished All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown on Tuesday for the Facebook Live video that went viral and has heaped unwanted national attention on the team in the two days since its broadcast.
Brown's video was taken in the locker room minutes after the Steelers' 18-16 divisional win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. It included Tomlin's postgame team speech in which he used a few expletives while discussing the New England Patriots, the Steelers' opponent in this Sunday's AFC championship game.
The 17-minute, 32-second video also showed some players in stages of undress and featured Brown mugging on his phone camera during a team prayer and while Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talked to the team.
Saying he wanted to address the “elephant in the room,” Tomlin opened his weekly press conference with a stern assessment of Brown's actions.
“I'll be bluntly honest here,” Tomlin said. “It was foolish of him to do that. It was selfish for him to do that, and it was inconsiderate for him to do that. Not only is it a violation of our policy, it's a violation of league policy. Both of which he knows.”
Tomlin said Brown will be punished “swiftly” and “internally” by the team, but it will not involve reduced playing time against the Patriots. Tomlin said he also expects Brown to face “consequences associated with the NFL policy.”
Brown issued an apology late Tuesday night on his Instagram account , saying he let his “emotions and genuine excitement get the best of me.”
Brown already has received fines from the NFL this season for his gyrating dances following touchdowns and for his colorful shoes that violate the league's uniform policy.
Tomlin hinted that if the unwanted attention Brown receives continues, it could force the Steelers to sever ties with a player who is a three-time team MVP, five-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro.
Brown's contract expires after the 2017 season.
“I think that's often times why you see great players move around from team to team,” Tomlin said. “I definitely don't want that to be his story. I'm sure he doesn't want that to be his story. So he has to address these things that put himself and us in position from time to time in settings where it needs to be addressed (to the media).”
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman took a shot at the Steelers on Boston radio station WEEI, saying the Facebook Live video is evidence of “how that team's run.”
In a Wall Street Journal story published in July, it said Brown is paid $244,000 by Facebook Live to create live broadcasts.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also expressed displeasure with Brown, calling it “disappointing” and “unfortunate.”
Roethlisberger said Brown violated the sanctity of the locker room during the 10-minute cooling off period before the media is permitted to enter.
“That's why fans and family aren't in there (either). It's a sacred place where things are said, hugs and tears, and it's kind of a special place,” Roethlisberger said on his weekly 93.7 FM radio segment. “I was disappointed in AB for that.”
Roethlisberger said he understood Brown's excitement after the win. Brown made a crucial 7-yard catch on third-and-3 with two minutes left in the game that enabled the Steelers to run out the clock. But he said Brown should have been focused on the postgame prayer and speech and not his phone. The visiting locker room at Arrowhead Stadium is cramped with lockers jutting out in the middle that divides the space into into two areas. Brown was not in the portion where the players gathered for the team speech when he was on Facebook Live.
“It's more disappointing than anger,” Roethlisberger said. “I'm not angry at AB. It's just disappointing that that sacred time was kind of violated a little bit, and he wasn't paying attention to coach and myself talking after the game.”
Tomlin said Brown runs the risk of alienating teammates with such behavior.
“He has to grow from that. He has to,” Tomlin said. “He works extremely hard. He's extremely talented, and those things get minimized with incidents such as this. You wear on your teammates when they routinely have to answer questions about things that aren't preparational football related.”
Tomlin apologized for the language contained in the video, calling it “regretable.” During his speech to the team, Tomlin used some colorful words to describe the Patriots while pointing out New England was “spotted” a “day and a half” of preparation for the AFC championship game.
“The thing that is the NFL and the platform we have is a precious and awesome thing,” Tomlin said. “It's not something we take lightly. ... That's why we go to great lengths to preserve in certain interactions between us because we are very sensitive to the opportunity we have as role models.”
Tomlin said the video will not detract from the team's preparation for the AFC championship game, the Steelers' first appearance since 2010.
“It has no consequence on us in our preparation and ultimately our play,” he said. “We are just going to be a team that goes up there ready to play and play winning football — as we expect from them.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.