Antonio Brown spent the weekend feeding the NFL rumor mill with his unexpected absence from the Steelers season finale and subsequent trade demand.
On Wednesday, Brown appeared on the new Fox reality show The Masked Singer. Coincidence? One sports writer thinks maybe not.
JJ Zachariason, the editor in chief for the daily fantasy site Fan Duel, speculated on Twitter that Brown’s season-ending drama could have been something of extended publicity for his subsequent appearance on the show. The show has a series of celebrity judges trying to guess the identities of a group of 12 masked celebrity singers. Their speaking voices are disguised, and the judges have to try to guess from their singing voices — and, in Brown’s case, his unique dance moves — their real identities.
Brown was eliminated on Wednesday’s show, but in doing so kicked up a bit of speculation that his football drama and his reality show appearance could have been connected. Zachariason’s suggestion that the two were connected appeared to be tongue-in-cheek, and there is no indication that Brown would be willing to risk his NFL livelihood just to drum up publicity for a one-and-done appearance on a new reality show. The All-Pro wide receiver missed his team’s season finale, being benched after missing the team’s final practice on Saturday.
???? Important Antonio Brown news ????— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 3, 2019
He was the contestant on The Masked Singer tonight. pic.twitter.com/BWpS9HixcP
Brown reportedly asked for a trade, though that was disputed by head coach Mike Tomlin on Wednesday.
“Bottom line is we are playing a significant game and he didn’t do a good job of communicating or being available in the hours leading up to that performance,” Tomlin said (via ESPN).
But Tomlin also hinted that Brown may no longer have a future with the team if the situation were to get any worse. When asked if there would be a point that Brown’s locker room antics would outweigh his talent and contributions to the team, Tomlin said, “Certainly.”
Tomlin refused to offer any more than that.
“I’m not speculating on what life is going to be like going forward,” Tomlin said. “What am I going to do is address the circumstances and then move on from there.”
The team will likely address the situation in the coming weeks, but reports have said that there is little chance the Steelers would trade Brown.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday with a win from the Baltimore Ravens. Antonio Brown was eliminated from contention on The Masked Singer with his loss on Wednesday’s show.