Being a good teammate is leading by example, not keeping locker room secrets

Matt Sullivan

Former Steelers teammates, Antonio Brown and Ryan Clark, don't see eye-to-eye these days. But one thing they apparently have in common is that being a great teammate constitutes keeping sordid locker room details hush-hush. However, being a great teammate is simply showing the rest of the guys what it takes to be an exceptional professional football player. Brown is a great player, and that's the best way to be a leader and teammate.

Allow me to weigh-in on the whole Ryan Clark/Antonio Brown spat over what does or does not constitute a good teammate.

In-case you didn't know (and even if you did, it's April, and what else am I going to write about?), Brown called out his former teammate, Clark, in a Tribune Review article on Sunday for Clark's revelation that some NFL players (even some of his own former teammates) use marijuana for medicinal purposes in-order to alleviate the pain that their bodies endure playing professional football.

Brown indicated this was a sign of Clark being a bad teammate and "bitter" because he was no longer in Pittsburgh.

In my opinion, Clark wasn't a bad teammate when he issued these statements about marijuana use, months ago; in-fact, he wasn't a teammate at all. He was an unrestricted free agent who knew he wouldn't be coming back to Pittsburgh, and yes, he was probably trying to position himself for a post-football career on ESPN or some other network, where he'll be free to express his views while wearing the bow-tie of his liking.

The funny thing about Brown calling out Clark for being a whistle-blower of sorts and pulling the curtain back on the inner-workings of his former team, is that it was only about a year ago or so that Clark, himself, lambasted his anonymous Steeler teammate who called-out LaMarr Woodley for being out-of-shape during the 2012 season and said it was an indication of a "fractured" locker room.

Furthermore, it was two years ago at this time that Clark criticized the "snitch" who blew the whistle on the bounty-scandal that derailed the Saints' 2012 season.

Apparently, from what I can gather from both Brown and Clark (and a lot of the reactions to the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal that rocked the team in 2013), being a good teammate constitutes covering-up unethical and illegal activities and keeping them "in-house." It's the whole "us against the world" mentality, and unity must be put above all else (even if unity and keeping stuff "in-house" could result in an important and productive teammate screwing the season up by being suspended for medicinal purposes).

As far as I'm concerned, being a good teammate has nothing to do with keeping locker room secrets hush-hush.

An example of being a good teammate is instructing rookies on what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler--including showing respect to the trainers, equipment managers and fans--like Joe Greene did time and time again during his legendary 13 years with the team.

Being a good leader is taking a player aside and telling him he's not being a good teammate. This was apparently one way Charlie Batch mentored a very young and entitled Ben Roethlisberger, many years ago. Judging by how Roethlisberger has evolved and grown as a team leader and private citizen, my guess is Batch was an invaluable teammate.

Is Antonio Brown a great teammate? I can't answer that question, but I know he's one hell of a football player, as was Clark when he was in Pittsburgh for eight years, helping the team win two AFC championships and Super Bowl XLIII.

I'm glad to see Brown becoming more vocal and stepping-up to fill the leadership void that was created by the departures of so many Super Bowl heroes--including Clark--but he can be an even better leader by just showing his teammates how to be a great professional football player (not by showing them how to keep secrets).

Judging by Brown's production, unquestioned work-ethic and the respect he's earned from his teammates in his four years in Pittsburgh, if he just leads by example, nobody will be questioning the Steelers' locker room for the foreseeable future.

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