Mike Tomlin had something of a full house for his end of season press conference on Wednesday, with numerous camera crews and media outlets in attendance to hear his side of the story in the continuing saga that is Antonio Brown. Attacking the issue head on from the outset, Tomlin laid out a timeline of events that began with the wide receiver reporting a knee injury on Wednesday and ended with his decision to hold AB out of the game on Sunday.
In light of complaints about soreness in his lower body earlier in the week, most notably his knee, Tomlin confirmed that Brown was given a day off on Wednesday. Still feeling discomfort on Thursday, Brown was held out of practice again. When he turned up on Friday still dealing with the issue, he was sent to get an MRI and told to go home and rest once that was done, with Tomlin saying he would call him that night.
At this point, things appear to have gone awry, with Brown seemingly dropping of the face of the earth from a communications perspective. As Tomlin explained to reporters.
“After Fridays business was done, it became difficult to communicate and catch up with him. I wasn’t able to communicate with him on Friday evening or Saturday morning. So when we had our Saturday morning mock game and walk-through and he was unavailable and we hadn’t communicated with him, then it became something altogether different. We decided to focus our energies on the guys that were working and prepared to work and present. So those were the guys that we prepared to play in the football game.”
“Woke up Sunday morning, got a call from his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Drew expressed that he was feeling better and that he would potentially be able to participate. I outlined to Drew that decisions weren’t made like that, but I would be interested in visiting with him in person at the stadium prior to the game. But playing wasn’t on the menu. So, Drew relayed that to him. I met with AB prior to the game, he asked what he could do, I said the best thing he could do in terms of helping us win the game is to be there and support his teammates. He agreed to do that. We had a general conversation about his overall health. I sent him to the training staff to visit with those guys, who obviously were at the stadium readying for people for play, and that was the last conversation he and I had. I subsequently saw him in the bowl in stadium during pregame warm ups and things of that nature. But as the game began to fold out, obviously I got occupied with the things that are at hand. I hear that he left the stadium, I don’t confirm that because again I was considering around the guys that were performing in the stadium and things of that nature. That’s an outline of what’s transpired from my perspective from our perspective.”
When opening up to questions, unsurprisingly most of them were about Brown, and Tomlin made it clear that matters would be address with his wideout.
“Obviously we take his lack of communication, his lack of presence particularly on Saturday prior to the game, to be something that is very significant and it will be handled appropriately so. I’m not going to speculate on trades and things of that nature. We haven’t formally received a request in that regard, so I’m not going to speculate in terms of where the discipline might go and things of that nature. Just know that it’s going to be addressed, and it will be addressed, it needs to be addressed, for obvious reasons.”
While it had been reported that Brown had been held out of the game for disciplinary reasons on Sunday, Tomlin suggested that was not technically true.
“He was absent due to injury and lack of information. When he did not show up on Saturday and I didn’t know the extent of his injury, I made the decision at that time, regardless of how he felt at any point, that we were moving on and getting singularly focused on preparing to play the game.”
And also acknowledged that Brown had been for his MRI.
“He did not, on Friday, he did not. But again, when I talked to you guys on Friday, I was not aware of that.”
#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. https://t.co/W03AHh5B6V— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 2, 2019
Telling reporters that his last communication with Brown was on Sunday morning, Tomlin confirmed that AB had also failed to show up at team facilities on Monday. It is also worth noting that he claimed to have no knowledge of any argument between Brown and Ben Roethlisberger that may have promoted this drama in the first place.
Until player and coach sit down together, this saga is far from over, but it would appear Brown is more interested in talking to James Harrison than Mike Tomlin.
Antonio Brown sitting down for an interview with James Harrison, what could possibly go wrong there? #Steelers #HereWeGo From Harrison's Instagram account earlier ... pic.twitter.com/6ldbQMbEEe— Simon Chester (@SimonAChester) January 2, 2019