Steelers’ Mike Tomlin addresses Antonio Brown drama
Mike Tomlin said the Pittsburgh Steelers have not “formally received” a trade request from Antonio Brown. In fact, Tomlin hasn’t received any communication from his star receiver since before the season finale Sunday.
Brown, however, hasn’t exactly remained incommunicado since the Steelers’ season ended. While Tomlin was meeting with the media for 30 minutes Wednesday to detail Brown’s recent absences, the wide receiver was filming an Instagram video with former linebacker James Harrison. He also posted on his verified Twitter account.
The bulk of Tomlin’s season-ending press conference centered on Brown, who did not practice last week, skipped the team walkthrough and meeting Saturday and then reportedly left the game Sunday at halftime after learning he would not be playing.
Brown also did not attend a team meeting Monday and hasn’t held his annual exit interview with Tomlin.
“There is disappointment, there’s no denying that,” Tomlin said.
Tomlin said he would not “speculate where any discipline will go” until he meets with Brown, and he expects that “it will occur in the upcoming days.”
“Just know that it is going to be addressed. It will be addressed and needs to be addressed for obvious reasons,” Tomlin said.
The most obvious of which is Brown quit on the Steelers as they prepared to play a game Sunday in which they needed to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals (and get outside help) in order to win the AFC North and reach the playoffs for the fifth year in a row.
Without Brown, the Steelers edged the last-place Bengals, 16-13, but did not get the help they needed to make the postseason.
“When we are talking about our darkest hour, talking about playing to win a game and needing other dominos to fall for us to be in the tournament, and the guy is not communicating, it is a real element of discussion,” Tomlin said.
A national report Tuesday said Brown asked to be traded. Brown, however, has a $22 million salary cap number for 2019 that would complicate any attempts to deal him.
“I’m not speculating on what life is going to be like going forward,” Tomlin said. “What I am going to do is address the circumstances and move on from there.”
Tomlin said he was unaware of a disagreement during practice last week between Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that reportedly was the impetus of the wide receiver skipping an entire week of practice.
Tomlin said Brown reported discomfort in his “lower body: feet, ankles, knee,” and was sent for an MRI on Friday. Tomlin said Brown did not keep the MRI appointment.
Tomlin said he told Brown to “get off his feet and lie low, and I would communicate with him Friday evening and we would plot out our course of action from there.”
Later on Friday, however, Tomlin said, “it became difficult to catch up and communicate” with Brown. The lack of response from Brown continued into Saturday morning when the team conducted its weekly walkthrough, which the wide receiver skipped as well as the team meeting Saturday night.
“Then it became something altogether different,” Tomlin said. “We decided to focus our energies on the guys that were working and present, so those are the guys we prepared to play in the football game.”
On Sunday morning, Tomlin said he received a call from Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus. He said Rosenhaus relayed that Brown was “feeling better” and wanted to play in the game.
“I expressed to Drew that playing was not on the table because we had to draw line in the dirt,” Tomlin said.
Tomlin said he met Brown at Heinz Field and “he asked what he could do,” Tomlin said. “I said the best thing he could do to help us win the game was to be there and support his teammates.”
Tomlin could not confirm Brown left the stadium at halftime because he was focused on the game against the Bengals.
The latest drama involving Brown raises questions about whether the Steelers can continue to put up with his antics and whether Tomlin needs to be a stronger disciplinarian.
As the coach, Tomlin said he needs to re-evaluate how he deals with players.
“I start with the thumb,” he said, pointing it at himself. “Most certainly. You’re not going to routinely do the same things and expect the results to change. The fact we are having this meeting, this press conference today, tells you that line of thinking is very necessary for all parties involved and starting with me.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at [email protected] or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .