Antonio Brown has officially requested a trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yes, officially this time. The All-Pro wideout is one of the game’s best players, but he’d very much like his time in the Steelers offense to come to an end.
A trade of Brown would likely leave Ben Roethlisberger as the lone member of the team’s big three stars on offense come the fall. Le’Veon Bell sat out an entire season instead of playing for the Steelers, and after a tumultuous campaign where Pittsburgh narrowly missed the playoffs — without Brown in the lineup — he seems intent on playing elsewhere, too.
There’s a lot we don’t know about what went wrong for the Steelers, but on Saturday we learned why the reported conflict between Roethlisberger and Brown may have come to a head. Brown held a Q&A on Twitter and was asked about what the beef was between he and Big Ben, and Brown said his “owner mentality” caused a lot of issues between the two.
Brown stressed there was “no conflict” between the two, which means they weren’t exactly pushing and shoving. But their personalities certainly clashed, and if Brown felt that Roethlisberger could criticize without consequences then it’s easy to read between the lines here and see what Brown is getting at. Roethlisberger, the franchise’s longtime quarterback, has the support of ownership and knows that makes him untouchable in Pittsburgh. Brown obviously feels disrespected in some way — likely many ways — and knows despite his elite status among wide receivers he’s in a much more tenuous position than the 36-year-old quarterback.
Brown’s time will not end quietly in Pittsburgh, but his grievances seem legitimate here. Players have a tenuous relationship with their careers if they decide to cause trouble, and very few in the league have the security that Roethlisberger appears to have in Pittsburgh. Brown might not be making any friends among owners with his comments here, but there’s certainly a “dirty game within the game” in the NFL that rarely gets spoken of.