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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Tomlin doesn’t need to say Antonio Brown bailed on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The longtime head coach isn’t ruling it out both.
The star extensive receiver went radio silent within the days earlier than the staff’s regular-season finale towards Cincinnati final Sunday, in essence abandoning the membership in what Tomlin described as its “darkest hour.”
Although Brown did make a cameo look on the sideline — rocking a fur coat — because the Steelers edged the Bengals , he vanished earlier than the ultimate gun and didn’t present up on Monday for exit interviews and to filter his locker.
Tomlin mentioned Brown arrived at apply final Wednesday reporting discomfort in his decrease physique. The staff gave Brown the time off, did so once more on Thursday. On Friday, Tomlin despatched Brown dwelling to relaxation and recommended he get an MRI on the banged up knee.
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Tomlin didn’t hear from Brown on Saturday to get an replace. When Drew Rosenhaus, Brown’s agent, reached out on Sunday morning to inform Tomlin that Brown was obtainable to play, Tomlin “drew a line within the sand” and mentioned Brown may finest serve the Steelers by cheering on the sideline.
Whereas Tomlin demurred when requested throughout his season-ending information convention on Wednesday if Brown “give up,” the longtime head coach provided little in protection of the perennial Professional Bowler, whose historic manufacturing has change into more and more at odds together with his erratic off-the-field habits.
“The underside line is we have been taking part in a big recreation and he didn’t do a adequate job of speaking of being obtainable within the hours main as much as that efficiency,” Tomlin mentioned.
“So we would have liked to make selections pertinent to attending to play in that efficiency. So, I’ve been actual clear at outlining what transpired, the extent of communication, issues of that nature. Clearly there are some issues inside that that you would be able to infer, definitely.”
Relatively than spend time elaborating on how the Steelers went from 7-2-1 the week earlier than Thanksgiving to 9-6-1 and lacking the postseason for the primary time since 2013 — a collapse Tomlin plans to “wallow” in over the following few weeks — he spent the vast majority of his time responding to questions on Brown.
It’s nothing new. The 30-year-old is the one participant in NFL historical past with six straight 100-catch seasons, however has change into adept at drawing headlines for issues that don’t have anything to do with soccer, be it livestreaming from the postgame locker room in Kansas Metropolis two years in the past to threatening a reporter from ESPN on social media in September to suggesting on Twitter he ought to be traded .
It hasn’t stopped. As Tomlin spoke, Brown — who has three years remaining on his four-year, $72 million extension he signed within the spring of 2017 — printed a put up on Instagram to his 3.1 million followers saying “I’m divinely blessed with free will. I make the most of that present, selecting to take cost of my life.” Brown additionally appeared with former teammate James Harrison, who promised an unique “interview” with Brown.
Tomlin has lengthy had a coverage of making an attempt to tune out what his gamers say or do on social media, however admitted there’s a degree of “disappointment” on the subject of Brown’s actions earlier than including it’s immaterial to his job.
Requested if there’s a degree with Brown or any participant the place the distractions can outweigh the on-the-field advantages, Tomlin mentioned “definitely.”
Whether or not the Steelers are at that time is unclear. Tomlin mentioned the staff has not acquired any “formal” commerce requests from Brown’s camp.
Tomlin declined to get into what punishment Brown might face sooner or later, saying the membership remains to be gathering data. Tomlin does imagine that Brown was coping with some sort of damage, however added to his data that Brown has not undergone the MRI.
“Like we do in all circumstances, we are going to take care of it appropriately and take care of it in-house,” Tomlin mentioned.
Brown’s future standing is only one of quite a lot of questions the Steelers will face over the following few months, beginning with the teaching employees. The protection and particular groups each had essential missteps this season and offensive line coach Mike Munchak is within the combine for a number of open head teaching positions.
“Whenever you lack success, once you fail, change is part of it,” Tomlin mentioned. “We speak about it. As a employees we speak about it. As gamers, in exit conferences. That’s simply our enterprise.”
So currently, has been addressing the perpetual drama surrounding one of many NFL’s most proficient and mercurial gamers.
This story has been corrected to replicate that Brown has three years left on his contract, not two.
Extra AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
The Related Press contributed to this report.
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