Antonio Brown’s absence from the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday was assumed to be due to a knee injury, because, well, that’s what was on the injury report all week.
Well, that doesn’t appear to be quite right.
Monday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a bombshell about why Brown actually did not play.
“Steelers receiver Antonio Brown did not play in the season-ending game against the Cincinnati Bengals because he elected to sit out practice last week after a dispute with Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has learned.
Several sources said the Steelers’ decision to not play Brown against the Bengals had nothing to do with any type of knee injury.
The disagreement occurred Wednesday morning during a routine walk-through practice that precedes their regular afternoon practice on the South Side. Brown was disgusted and threw a football in Roethlisberger’s direction, several sources said.
After that, Brown did not practice the rest of the week. According to a source, it was Brown’s decision not to practice with his teammates.”
The Steelers ultimately won the game but were eliminated from the playoffs due to wins by the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts.
Brown reportedly also skipped Saturday’s walk-through, but according to NFL Media’s Aditi Kinkhabwala, it wasn’t totally expected that he wouldn’t play.
“His teammates expected him to play on Sunday,” Kinkhabwala said on NFL Network’s “The Aftermath”. “He came to Heinz Field Sunday, he obviously did not suit up, and now this becomes a question of, what is going on with Antonio Brown? Is the level of discipline and accountability where this team needs it to be?”
Kinkhabwala also reported, citing sources, that Brown ended up leaving Heinz Field at halftime.
Obviously, this speaks to a bigger problem within the organization. The Steelers have plenty of talent, but with so much tension, one has to think this may be signaling a major issue that will stagnate the franchise unless something is done.