Despite a late-season rift between seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers that, as The Inquisitr reported, resulted in the team agreeing to trade away its 30-year-old superstar, Brown remains a Steeler a month after Super Bowl 53 wrapped up the 2018-2019 NFL season. Now, Brown appears to say in a new interview that he is prepared to walk away from football altogether, rather than return to the Steelers.
“I don’t even have to play football if I don’t want. I don’t even need the game, I don’t need to prove nothing to anyone,” Brown said in a Sunday ESPN interview, quoted by NFL.com. “If they wanna play, they going to play by my rules. If not, I don’t need to play.”
Brown added, however, that he expects the Steelers to trade him inside of two weeks, because on March 17, the team is contractually required to pay Brown a $2.5 million bonus simply for being on the roster, according to Pro Football Talk.
Brown told ESPN that he would “invoice” the Steelers for $2.5 million on March 17, saying that due to the bonus, trading him prior to that date was “pretty much what’s good for their business.” He also added that if he is not traded, he would prove a “distraction” as Pittsburgh prepares for the 2019 season after missing the playoffs for the first time in five seasons last year — and only the fifth time since 2004, according to Pro Football Reference.
In the interview, Brown also again blamed a rift with Steelers’ two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for his estrangement from the Steelers, saying, “I don’t take any blame,” per PFT. Brown said that he and Roethlisberger never worked out together in the offseason, and as result, failed to create a “winning culture.”
The Steelers are seeking a first-round draft pick in a trade for Brown, ESPN.com reporter Adam Schefter wrote on Friday. In fact, Schefter reported that the Steelers’ original asking price for Brown included the pick packaged with other elements, but they recently dropped their demands to the first-round pick alone.
And according to a Pro Football Talk report, Brown intends to be picky about the team to which he is ultimately traded, assuming a deal for the four-time first-team Associated Press All-Pro goes through. But money is not the foremost factor in Brown’s mind, PFT reported. “Quality of quarterback play will be a factor in Brown’s assessment of whether he wants to play for a team to which he could be traded,” the NBC Sports-owned site reported.