If you are a former Pittsburgh Steelers player who has not been invited on a national television or radio show to discuss Antonio Brown recently, you probably have to wonder where your media career is going. Following on the heels of Ryan Clark, James Harrison, Emmanuel Sanders, Bruce Arians and Plaxico Burress, Bruce Gradkowski was the latest former Steeler to be called upon to share his thoughts about his former teammate.
As the backup quarterback to Ben Roethlisberger from 2013 until his release midway though the 2016 season, Gradkowski spent a lot a time working with Brown during his time in Pittsburgh. And while clearly a fan of his work ethic on the field, it would appear he felt AB could have improved on his off-field behavior when he appeared on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Thursday.
What does Former #Steelers Quarterback @BGradkowski5 make of the Antonio Brown drama in Pittsburgh?— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) January 17, 2019
"No one doubts AB workout ethic on the field but when this stuff starts coming to light there is something more going on."
“AB does what he does. Sometimes he’d come in late for meetings. Sometimes I wouldn’t even know if he’s in the wide receivers meeting room on a Saturday morning, but people knew how to work with him. When AB was on the field, guys loved him. He has a fun personality, you thought nothing of it. But then as it continues to happen, it’s annoying. It’s annoying the teammates because your planes not leaving because you’re waiting on a guy and different situations like that through the years.”
“Now, there’s got to be something deeper than just him not showing up. He loves the game too much and the one thing for AB is being on that field playing. The coaches would try to give him days off during training camp because of his feet sometimes and his legs. He didn't want days off. So for me to see him just not show, and not show for practice and then the game, that's where I’m kinda like “man. what is going on over there?” What’s he really trying to say and what’s the inside noise that we don’t even know. Look, I’m not in that locker room now, so I’m not knowing the whole story. I just see what I’ve been through.”
“And No one doubts AB’s work ethic on the field, but then when this stuff starts coming to light, you know there's something more going on. Whether it’s that feud between AB and Ben, which look, a quarterback and receiver you always get into it. All receivers have it in them, and that's what makes these receivers great is they want the ball and to be part of the game, but it got to this point that surprised me it’s so bad over there.
If he is to be traded, while Gradkowski believes Brown could be worth as much as a first, he appears to have concerns about how this latest protracted drama will impact team interest.
“You'd love to see Art Rooney get a first for AB, but like you said, with the age coming in as a factor. Now all of a sudden as AB continues to push back at guys on Twitter, Emmanuel Sanders and stuff like that. It’s like look, if there's a different side to the story, just come out and say it, because the more you're kinda pushing back and just complaining on Twitter, the more other teams are seeing, like man, do we really want this drama in our locker room. So now, even though a team will like you on the field, they’re at you know, it’s not worth a number one to us.”
Gradkowski's revelation that being late for meetings was something of a regularity for Brown are disappointing to hear, but sadly not surprising given his well publicized inability to to turn up for public appearances anywhere near close to their start time.
Like some fans, he also seems to believe that something more significant must have happened between AB and the team over the last few weeks of the season to provoke such an extreme reaction. His call for Brown to tell his side of the story, if such a thing exists, is something many would echo.
As hard as it is to understand what could possibly have occurred internally that would warrant sitting out the final game of the season, Brown obviously thinks differently. But without knowing what that it, the Steelers troubled receiver really cannot expect too many people to have sympathy for him.