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Steelers receiver Antonio Brown has the power to be as free as he wants

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown has the career resume to express his opinions about anything he desires.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers-Minicamp Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown made headlines last week for his rather emotional talk with the media on Day 1 of minicamp, an annual 3-day event for which attendance is mandatory.

One of Brown’s issues had to do with the scrutiny he faced for previously skipping out on several OTAs — annual sessions that are anything but mandatory.

It’s true that Brown’s decision to take time away from OTAs to, as he put it, get his mind right, made him look like a hypocrite on the heels of his remarks about the OTA absence of Le’Veon Bell, who’s in Year 2 of an ongoing contract dispute with the Steelers: “The first rule of getting better is showing up.

Brown accused the media of making up a story, which wasn’t necessarily true. What the media was guilty of, however, was taking a single quote from a lengthy interview and framing it into a story.

Until it was pointed out to me, and until I read the interview in its entirety, I thought Brown was calling out his teammate for not showing up to an activity he wasn’t required to show up for.

After reading the interview from beginning to end, I now can see where a player like Brown would be pretty darn frustrated when his quote about Bell actually was taken out of context.

But what really intrigued me about Brown’s emotional interview last week was how he continuously mentioned his frustration with not being free to express himself in this game, this business, this league, whatever.

What was he referring to? Thankfully, a reporter or two did try to follow up with Brown and asked him what he meant by that but, perhaps because he felt he wasn’t free to do so, the decorated receiver didn’t really elaborate.

Was Brown referring to his social media activity?

As you know, business has always been booming for Brown, with regards to how he expresses himself online, at least in terms of his involvement in the community and, of course, his insane workout regimen.

Was Brown talking about his almost always elaborate touchdown celebrations?

If he was, hey, I understand. After all, who really cares how much fun a player has after scoring a touchdown? But if 2017 was any indication, that horse left the barn a long time ago, and Brown should be able to celebrate touchdowns any way he sees fit between now and the time the league cracks down on it again, a la 1984.

Was Brown referring to some of those very touchy social issues that other NFL players have spoken out about and have paid a very heavy price for doing so?

If so, Brown should get in front of reporters tomorrow and say his piece about whatever issues are bothering him. And if he feels it necessary to say his piece in a different way on Sunday afternoons this fall, he should do that, too.

What is the league going to do, blackball Antonio Brown?

Good luck with that.

It would be refreshing to see a player of Brown’s stature step up for a controversial cause. For one thing, he’s one of the faces of the league. For another thing, he may actually be the best football player on the planet right now, thus totally untouchable.

It’s like what head coach Mike Tomlin once said regarding those elaborate touchdown celebrations that used to cost his team 15 yards on a regular basis: “What am I going to do, bench Antonio Brown?”

Does Brown want to get some things off of his chest regarding his sixth-round pedigree and a rookie season that often saw him fighting with another receiver pup just to get a little measly bone? If so, have at it. For gosh sake, Tom Brady has made a career out of being driven by lasting until the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Why is it sexy for Brady to have a chip on his shoulder, but not for Brown to be equally driven by his past?

Brown is the single-greatest receiver in the world right now, and if NFL MVP voting actually made sense, he may have won it a time or two already.

Maybe people don’t think of him this way, but Brown is a team leader. His voice matters. His feelings matter. His desires are and should be important to the Steelers.

They should also be important to the fans.

Brown gives it everything he has both from a preparation standpoint and on game day.

Brown has been entertaining us as a football player for years. He’s earned the right to let everyone know how he feels about many different things.