With the Pittsburgh Steelers having narrowly missed the playoffs with a 9-6-1 record, a lot of attention has been focused on the alleged turmoil behind the scenes. Much of these locker room issues appear to have centered on superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown, and — as former teammate and current ESPN SportsCenter analyst Ryan Clark sees it — these issues might have stemmed from the time the Steelers gave him a lucrative multi-year contract in the 2012 offseason.
As quoted by the New York Post, Clark — a safety who played most of his 13-year NFL career in Pittsburgh — made the comments on Monday night’s SportsCenter, as he recalled former Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace’s holdout in 2012, and how Wallace’s refusal of the Steelers’ offer allowed the team to make a similar deal and sign Brown to a new contract. According to Clark, he tried to warn Pittsburgh’s coaching staff about what could happen if the team spent a lot of money on re-signing the former sixth-round draft pick.
“When [Brown] walks past, I say to the strength coaches, ‘When you give him money, you’re going to create a monster.'”
Clark continued his criticism of Brown by suggesting that he didn’t have the character to be a good and supportive teammate — or to work together with the rest of the Steelers to achieve their goals. He also suggested that the 30-year-old wide receiver is someone who cares more about statistics than he does about winning.
“What matters to him is 19 attempts, 14 carries, 185 yards, two touchdowns against the Saints. That’s what’s important to Antonio Brown.”
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) January 1, 2019
In conclusion, Clark suggested that it’s about time that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin “[puts] his foot down” and starts looking for potential trade partners.
“This is about the fabric of the team. This is about the guy who goes Facebook Live when your coach is talking,” he stressed.
Per Bleacher Report, Brown was benched during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week 17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, due to an allegedly “heated” altercation with a teammate — and not the knee injury Tomlin told reporters he had. While USA Today wrote that various sources have alleged that the teammate in question was Ben Roethlisberger, the veteran quarterback denied these rumors in an interview with Pittsburgh radio station 93.7 The Fan, wherein he also claimed that “everything was fine” when he spoke to Brown on Thursday morning.
Despite missing the final game of the year, Antonio Brown finished the 2018 NFL season with 1,297 receiving yards and a league-leading 15 receiving touchdowns. He was named to his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl — and seventh Pro Bowl overall throughout nine seasons of play.