Antonio Brown normally does a good job of avoiding contact during a game, but he just cannot seem to escape the off field hits as of late. After being vilified in the press earlier in the week, a former teammate and a Pittsburgh Steelers legend was the latest to call him out in the media when discussing the beleaguered wide receiver on Saturday.
Speaking as a guest on The Zach Gelb Show on CBS Sports, Hines Ward had some strong words to share about Brown’s recent antics when asked for his opinion by the host.
“I’m a little embarrassed, in the sense that, you know, that’s not the Steelers’ culture. We’re not really big on kinda having off-the-field issues with a lot of different guys. But Antonio Brown, listen, I understand he’s a passionate guy and he wants to win more than anybody in the world, but, in this case, I kind of think he’s wrong for the outburst. When things aren’t going good, a lot of people look at your leaders on the team, the players, the guys who are doing it, they want to see how you respond to adversity. So it’s something I wouldn’t have done. I get it. You’re frustrated. You want to win. But at the same time, having an outburst like that doesn’t do anyone any justice.”
That being said, Ward knows a win can cure all ills, but he has concerns about what might happen should Pittsburgh drop their third game of their year to a surprisingly challenging opponent in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“The Steelers can’t afford to lose that game [vs. Tampa Bay] or things can really get bad in Pittsburgh. ... Winning solves everything. You get back on the winning track, all this other stuff is just outside noise, but if they don’t win down there, I don’t know, I’ll be shocked to see. You’ll have some more issues down there.”
Ward blames social media for much of Brown’s problems, suggesting his former teammate would better served staying off the platform altogether, or at least by not responding to the comments .
“He’s fun, he’s energetic, he wants this connection with his fans, but like I say, there’s a time and a place for everything and I would like for him to just focus on football, find a way to get this thing back on track in Pittsburgh. Like I said, it’s all about winning football games, and that should be the main priority in all the players’ careers.”
As someone who knows Mike Tomlin and the culture of the locker room under his leadership, Ward takes exception to those who blame the head coach for all of the issues surrounding the team.
“A lot of that stuff is really out of his hands. ... I don’t know if that is as much on Mike Tomlin or as much on the leaders of the football team.”
Ward is not wrong in his assessment of Brown behavior, nor are his remarks about the leaders on the team sharing some responsibilities for the issues that have dogged them. Given his somewhat sensitive nature, it is unlikely that AB will take too kindly to Ward’s words, but as the franchise’s all-time leading receiver (for now), he has more than earned the right to say his piece.