Antonio Brown missed the Steelers’ season finale against the Bengals on Sunday, with a shot at the playoffs on the line if the Browns beat the Ravens.
The absence was initially thought to be due to a knee injury, but a new report on Monday from Gerry Dulac and Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette indicates that is not the case. According to Dulac and Bouchette, Brown got into an altercation with a teammate at practice early in the week that ended with Brown throwing a football in anger at the unnamed teammate.
According to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic Pittsburgh, that teammate was none other than quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
From there, Brown proceeded to sit out practice for the remainder of the week and skipped the team’s walk-through and team meeting at the hotel on Saturday. On Sunday, Brown arrived at Heinz Field ready to play to the shock of many and was told he would be sitting out — as the report notes, despite being called a game time decision he never even warmed up in an effort to test his alleged knee injury.
It’s just the latest somewhat disastrous incident involving one of the Steelers’ superstars and the organization butting heads on an issue. Le’Veon Bell’s holdout, which eventually became him sitting out the entire season, dominated headlines early in the year and as the Steelers found themselves having a disappointing season, it seems Brown’s behavior eventually became a problem as well.
According to Dulac and Bouchette’s report, it was far from the first time Brown skipped a team meeting, including the meeting prior to last week’s loss in New Orleans, and for whatever reason it seems a divide is growing in the Steelers’ locker room. For an organization that’s been as stable as any historically, it’s rather jarring to see it look so dysfunctional for an entire season. The question now is how will they move forward as it’s possible their two top offensive stars in recent years may be on the way out.