Antonio Brown vs. Todd Haley: Drama now seated next to misery on Steelers' ship

Kirk Irwin

Sideline dust-up between Antonio Brown and Todd Haley allegedly over a lack of targets to Brown. It also reveals another crack in the eroding level of confidence being projected outward from the 0-2 Steelers.

To paraphrase Keyshawn, give Antonio Brown the damn ball.

Is that the pride of the highest paid receiver among the Steelers' group, or the selfish plea of an embarrassed player who has 11 catches for 128 yards - good enough for 28th and 43rd in the NFL, respectively.

Oddly, Brown has one more catch and two fewer yards than former Steelers receiver Mike Wallace, who complained after his Week 1 debut of one catch (on five targets) for five yards against Cleveland.

Wallace sat down with head coach Joe Philbin, and Wallace exploded for nine catches, 115 yards and a touchdown in Mimai's Week 2 win over Indianapolis. Perhaps Brown got wind of the meeting of the Dolphins minds, and is looking to implement his own form of non-violent protestation.

Maybe it's more than that. A source told Post-Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette a sideline flare-up between offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Brown was due to Brown's actions, which weren't met favorably by Haley. His source also said the center of Brown's irritation was the tried-and-true receiver cliche of not getting the ball.

That same logic could be applied to a Steelers defense that has yet to give the ball back to its offense, while the Steelers offense seems content with sharing it with the defense of their opponent. Even in an even situation, Brown's alleged concerns create a real quandary for Steelers fans - break the long-standing rule of "Thou shall not complaineth when doth not receivith the ball," as well as "Todd Haley is a chowderhead."

But what does this have to do with how bad the offensive line is? It's currently unclear, but we will take to Twitter later for the correct answer.

The point is Antonio Brown crossed the line in Pittsburgh receivers should never cross. According to Bouchette's source, his animosity is directed at Haley. That backs up previous allegations that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is ultimately responsible for getting Brown the ball, did not like the direction of things under Haley. It's hard to say now those issues have cooled - or at the very least, Ben might have shut up, but Brown is joining the fray now.

It's presumptuous to suggest Haley will or should be walked out the door because he has a wide receiver who feels he should be getting the ball more - in other shocking news, the sun rose in the east today. Even sideline confrontations with Haley are more appropriately packaged under the banner feature on the Lindberg baby. He and Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel looked like two college guys about ready to throw down over who needs to buy the next case of Busch Light when both were in Kansas City. He got into it with Anquan Boldin when he was in Arizona as well.

Even the well-known pattern of these incidents doesn't make Haley or Brown bad coaches or teammates. But it does suggest internal cracks that have been suspected, if not feared for a while, are beginning to spread wider than just the quarterback who loved his previous offensive coordinator/golfing buddy.

It's hard to even determine reason in this situation, let alone validity. Brown's complaints could be seen as trivial, the subject of them basically non-existent. But one could make the same "lack of foundation" argument on Haley's offense.

What isn't likely to be argued, though, is the fact this story now brings drama onto the stinking, sinking ship that is the Steelers, as they prepare to avoid their worst start in nearly two decades.

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