Welcome to the most contentious “U mad, bro?” yet.
It’s mainly me getting mad at the national media because the national media seem to be mad at the Steelers organization, the NFL, Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger.
That’s more politically correct, I guess, than being mad at Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell for acting like stupid, spoiled brats who stomped their feet and lied until they got out of Pittsburgh.
The more national media reaction on Brown and Bell that I see, the more I feel like it isn’t an analysis of who was right and who was wrong. Instead, it’s an analysis of “what do people want to hear me say? What opinion can I advance that’s going to get the most positive interaction on social media?”
I get the impression that most of the national talking heads have crafted their opinions to posture, preen and look good on Twitter more so than to dish out facts.
The “working man got over on the big boss” angle is an easy play for social media applause.
And, boy, are they seeking it out!
ESPN’s Mike Greenberg sums up what I mean with this tweet.
Antonio Brown did what any NFL player must to gain leverage in a league where the rules are slanted so hard against them. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. He did what he had to do. And he won. #Steelers #Raiders
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) March 10, 2019
What a pandering, phony, “please like and retweet me” post this is. Mike, I’ll tell you the “game to hate.” It’s “the game” Brown played with his existing contract in Pittsburgh.
“Wah! Ben is mean to me!”
That means give me more money.
“Wah! Mike Tomlin doesn’t respect me!”
That means I want more guaranteed cash up front.
So, to be clear, a guy on a flagship network of the NFL is telling all players that if they don’t like their contracts, they should grouse their way out of them. What an endorsement by him, huh? Note Greenberg’s use of the word “must.” Got that players? You “must” force your way out of valid deals!
Amy Trask used to be the CEO of the Raiders. She’s now a CBS Sports analyst. And in the lead-up to Le’Veon Bell’s signing with the Jets, she provided this quote gasping at how the Steelers reacted to the news that Bell wouldn’t be playing for the team at all in 2018.
.@AmyTrask: “I spent almost 30 years in the National Football League, and never in all of those years did I see any behavior remotely resembling what we saw go on in the Steeler locker room after the players were told Le’Veon Bell wouldn’t come back."https://t.co/HwtQfF06rr
— CBS Sports Radio (@CBSSportsRadio) March 12, 2019
Hey, Amy, in your 30 years in the NFL, did you ever see a player tell his team he’d report for $14 million in March, then renege on the promise and fail to show up in July? Did you ever see that?
Meanwhile, in my 25 years of sports journalism, I’ve never seen a story where the national media has so badly distorted and misrepresented what’s really going on in a given city as this one involving Roethlisberger, Brown and Bell.
I’ll grant something to Trask, though. I was in the room that day. And I hadn’t seen anything like it either. But maybe she should get beyond the hang-up of the 24 year-olds stealing a guy’s cleats. Instead, focus on the substance of what the 30-year-olds like Maurkice Pouncey and Ramon Foster said about how Bell bailed on the team.
That doesn’t fit the national media picture, though, does it?
Kevin Van Valkenburg is a senior writer at ESPN and ESPN The Magazine. This hot take makes me ask, “How awful are the opinions of the junior writers?”
NFL marketing has been so good at brainwashing fans into viewing quarterbacks as god-like figures that an aging and expensive Ben Roethlisberger has mostly escaped blame in helping alienate the team’s best player and its still kind of baffling. https://t.co/3pXqljhSDe
— Kevin Van Valkenburg (@KVanValkenburg) March 11, 2019
No. What’s baffling is that you think one person should be held accountable for another person’s actions. Equally baffling is a suggestion that he has “mostly escaped blame” when every blog and network — including your own — has shredded the guy for three months now.
Former NFL executive Andrew Brandt is now with “Monday Morning Quarterback.” He thinks that you and I are incapable of critical thought and interpretive decision-making.
NFL teams have fans and media trained (brainwashed?): when player is released with tens of millions vanishing on his contract, reaction is not about player, but about how much cash/Cap that clears for team.
— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) March 10, 2019
Just as the multimillionaire players have apparently brainwashed some fans and media into thinking they are paupers starving in comparison to their billionaire owners?
Therefore, I suppose their only recourse is to go back on promises and/or force their way out of valid contracts.
By the way, are we done with the brainwashing allegations yet?
Pat Creighton hosts a talk show on SBNationRadio. He lashed out at me after I advanced some negative opinions about Brown weaseling his way out of Pittsburgh.
The butthurt is strong in this one – Darth Vader. https://t.co/XAeBC46scr
— PCreight (@PCreighton1) March 10, 2019
That’s true. I was “butthurt.” But it was not as strong of a “butthurting” as it was with the pouty wide receiver who forced his way out of town because his quarterback told him he ran a wrong route and the other wide receiver got team MVP.
OK. This guy doesn’t have a job in the media. He’s just some jag on Twitter named “Special K.”
Those two knew the SB potential of the Steelers with them and still decided to cut bait. They have much less chance at SB apart.
Steelers = toxic
— Special K. (@the_legit_shag) March 13, 2019
This point of view is priceless. It is the growing spin to protect Brown and Bell as advanced by their hero-worshipping fans.
“The Steelers were toxic, and those two were victims of it.” Not the other way around. Get it?
Those two didn’t cause the toxicity. But they were collateral damage from it. Wow. What a world.
One more. Because I can’t help myself. This guy — voluntarily — calls himself “Fantasy Football Lord” on Twitter.
— Fantasy Football Lord (@LordDontLose) March 13, 2019
Yeah. As I love how you fanboys refuse to understand Bell would’ve had those same dollars in his pocket by now if he had signed the offer he was given to stay in Pittsburgh two years ago. Eh, who am I kidding? That money wouldn’t be in his pocket. It would have been in that stripper’s G-string.