In light of his recent transgressions that include penalty-inducing touchdown celebrations, apparent whining over not getting enough passes thrown his way, the now infamous Facebook Live post following a divisional round playoff victory over the Chiefs on January 15 and reportedly running the wrong routes (either unintentionally or on purpose) in the AFC title game loss to New England on January 22, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has come under some harsh criticism over the past 10 days.
The fans have fallen out of favor with him and many want him shuttled out of town as fast as Kevin Colbert can put him on the next bus to whichever team will take him (for a hefty price, of course); and there are even rumors that star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is about as fed up with his number one target as anyone.
However, if you’re going to have one person in your camp, it might as well be the boss.
Such seemed to be the case on Tuesday when team president Art Rooney II, in his now annual end-of-season address to the local media, openly endorsed his star receiver, calling his attention-drawing behaviors “little annoyances.”
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“Antonio is a good person,” Rooney told reporters on Tuesday, in a quote courtesy of the Observer-Reporter. “He’s an intense competitor. He’s a highly conditioned athlete. He works as hard as probably anybody I’ve ever seen. He wants to be a successful football player. Given all of that, he’ll keep things in perspective. It’s a crazy world out there. I don’t pretend to even understand social media and what the players’ attitudes are toward that. Even with my own kids, it’s a different world. I try to keep an open mind about it. But there have to be some rules.”
OK, along with a public endorsement, there seemed to be a small warning in there for Brown to tighten things up a bit, as it pertains to social media.
It remains to be seen if No. 84 will shape up in that regard, but there doesn’t seem to be much mystery as to the receiver’s immediate future with the Steelers.
For those that want him traded, that seems to be highly unlikely. At the very least, Brown, who has one year remaining on a contract extension he inked in 2012, will be around to play out his deal.
But, reading between the lines as to what Rooney was trying to get across to the media, and by extension, the fans, it appears the organization is going to attempt to get a long-term deal done with Brown, who has 481 receptions for 6,315 yards since 2013.
Sure, Brown’s production dipped to 106 catches for 1,284 yards last season, after setting team and career highs with 136 and 1,834 in those respective categories in 2015, but that could likely be attributed to the Steelers lack of a true number two receiver, what with Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant and Sammie Coates either being injured, suspended or otherwise compromised for most or all of the regular season.