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Report: Antonio Brown’s absence from the Bengals game had nothing to do with a knee injury

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This report is just the latest embarrassing incident involving the Steelers’ All-Pro WR.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Just when you thought the drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers, and more importantly Antonio Brown, was a thing of the past — think again.

Less than 24 hours since the Steelers’ playoff hopes were dashed by a Baker Mayfield interception against the Baltimore Ravens, news of the real reason why Antonio Brown missed the game is staring to surface.

In other words, it had nothing to do with a knee injury.

According to Gerry Dulac and Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Brown had missed/skipped several meetings the week prior to Week 17, and a disagreement with a teammate equated in Brown’s inactive designation vs. the Bengals.

Per their report:

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown did not play in the season-ending game against the Cincinnati Bengals because he elected to sit out practice last week after an unspecified heated dispute with a teammate, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has learned.

Several sources said the Steelers’ decision to not play Brown against the Bengals had nothing to do with any type of knee injury.

The disagreement occurred Wednesday morning during a routine walk-through practice that precedes their regular afternoon practice on the South Side. Brown became disgusted and threw a football in anger at one of his teammates, several sources said.

After that, Brown did not practice the rest of the week. According to a source, it was Brown’s decision not to practice with his teammates.

This report is eerily similar to that of Le’Veon Bell’s awkward situation a year ago when the All-Pro running back reportedly didn’t show up for a Saturday walk-through prior to the team’s Divisional Round loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In fact, Dulac and Bouchette report sources told them Brown too skipped out on the Saturday walk-through before the Week 17 game.

He did not attend Saturday’s walk-through practice and skipped the Saturday night meeting at the team hotel — the latest in missed meetings by the All-Pro receiver. Brown was never on the field for the start of the game against the Bengals and left Heinz Field at halftime, according to multiple sources.

According to several sources, Brown showed up at Heinz Field expecting to play against the Bengals. That surprised several players, including one who called the situation “embarrassing” and “the worst I’ve seen.” That player said the entire situation and the way it was handled affected his desire to play in the game.

Brown did not practice all week and was listed as questionable on the injury report before the game. When he did not practice on Wednesday, the reason listed on the official report was “coaches decision.” On Thursday, the reason was listed as “coaches decision/knee.”

When offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner was asked about Brown after Thursday’s practice, his short reply was, “I’m not going to answer any questions about Antonio. Next.”

This isn’t just a damning report of Brown, and his character, but also that of the coaching staff and front office. Granted, they did sit Brown in Sunday’s game, but you have to wonder how many times reports like this are going to surface with multiple players under Mike Tomlin before something drastic happens.

What would such a drastic decision be? The exit of Tomlin? The dismissal of Brown? No one knows, but it seems drama has continued to circle the Steelers yet again as the offseason just gets underway.

UPDATE:

Mark Kaboly of The Athletic reports the player Brown thew a football at was none other than Ben Roethlisberger.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers throughout the offseason and NFL Draft prep.