Antonio Brown rubbed many in the Pittsburgh Steelers organization the wrong way with the stunt he pulled Sunday night, including Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
After Pittsburgh defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, the All-Pro wide receiver recorded Tomlin’s postgame speech without the coach’s knowledge and broadcast it on Facebook Live. In the video, Tomlin can be heard calling the Steelers’ next opponent, the New England Patriots, “a–holes” and using some other NSFW language.
Tomlin addressed the controversy Tuesday in a news conference. He apologized for cursing but made it very clear he did not approve of Brown’s actions.
“I’ll be bluntly honest here,” Tomlin told reporters, via USA TODAY. “It was foolish of him to do that. It was selfish for him to do that, and it was inconsiderate of 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. There are consequences to be dealt with from his perspective.
“We will punish him. We won’t punish us. And we will do that swiftly, and we will do so internally.”
In an even more damning statement, Tomlin remarked on how off-the-field incidents such as this can lead to teams moving on from players — even ones as talented as Brown is.
“I think that’s why often times you see great players move around from team to team,” Tomlin told reporters. “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 have put him and us, in time to time, in settings as such where it needs to be addressed.”
That said, Tomlin insisted he has “absolutely no worries” about the Brown situation distracting the team ahead of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.
“I’m not worried about our team’s ability to deal with the potential distractions,” he told reporters. “We have prepared for distractions as much as we have prepared for this opportunity.”
Brown was one of the NFL’s most productive receivers during the regular season, catching 106 passes for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s kept up that torrid pace this postseason, racking up 232 yards on 11 receptions with two touchdowns over two playoff games.
The Steelers have won nine games in a row but have beaten the Patriots just once since 2008. New England, which will host Sunday’s game at Gillette Stadium, is riding an eight-game winning streak and will be playing in its sixth consecutive AFC title game.
Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaireiUSA TODAY Sports Images