Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did his best to shed some light on the Antonio Brown saga, but there are still plenty of questions without answers.
Tomlin gave his end-of-season press conference Wednesday, much earlier than he planned after the Steelers missed the playoffs by way of the Baltimore Ravens’ win in Week 17.
That leaves the Steelers in an unfamiliar position of being one of the 24 teams not in the playoff field. A position they’re familiar with, however, is superstar drama, which is what they’re currently dealing with when it comes to Brown.
The All-Pro wideout’s status with the team is very much up in the air after he didn’t play in the Steelers’ Week 17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Brown showed up on the injury report leading up to the game, but reports indicated Tomlin made Brown inactive. One report even indicated Brown was benched after a run-in with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
On Wednesday, Tomlin tried to clear the air, shedding some more light on what happened. Tomlin reiterated that Brown mentioned a knee issue in the week leading up to the Bengals game. It was apparently enough to keep Brown out of practice all week, which led the Steelers on Friday to instruct Brown to get an MRI on the knee — and that’s when things spiraled downward.
According to Tomlin, Brown never underwent the MRI. The problem was compounded Saturday when Brown didn’t show up for the team’s walk-through ahead of Sunday’s game. All of that led Tomlin to rule out Brown on Sunday.
When Sunday rolled around, Tomlin said he received a call from Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, who told Tomlin that Brown was feeling better and could play Sunday. Tomlin said Wednesday he told Rosenhaus that Brown playing “wasn’t going to be on the menu.” Brown showed up to work Sunday and briefly met with Tomlin, who told Brown to be there for his teammates.
There were questions as to whether Brown left the game at halftime.
“I was centered around the guys in-stadium,” Tomlin said, stating he didn’t know if Brown left early.
Tomlin revealed the pregame conversation with Brown was the last time he talked to Brown, and the two hadn’t spoken since the Steelers’ season ended. Tomlin did state, however, that Brown hasn’t formally requested a trade despite reports indicating he had.
“I’m not going to speculate on trades or things of that nature. We haven’t received a formal request, so I’m not going to speculate,” Tomlin said.
When one reporter asked Tomlin whether he thought Brown quit on the team, he gave a telling answer.
“You can describe it however you want to describe it,” Tomlin stated. ” … He didn’t do a good enough job of communicating or being available.”
Coincidentally or not, Brown posted a photo of himself to Instagram during Tomlin’s press conference with the caption “Happy New Year. Be great.” The photo also had text overlay with an unattributed photo.
“My options may seem limited by people or circumstances,” the caption read. “It is then that I remind myself I am in command of my attitude.
“I am divinely blessed with free will. I utilize that gift, choosing to take charge of my life; to express the creativity, vitality and wholeness that truly define me.”
As the Steelers now begin what Tomlin described as “information gathering,” it’s clear this thing is far from over.
Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images