While Wednesday marked the first day of practice for the Pittsburgh Steelers players taking part in the Pro Bowl, it also represented the first real real opportunity for reporters to ask questions about the drama that has unfurled since the season ended. But with Antonio Brown having already pulled out of the game due to injury a few weeks ago, it was left to his teammates who were participating to answer all the questions about him.
Speaking to a group of local Pittsburgh beat reporters who had made the trip to Orlando for the event, Maurkice Pouncey appeared more than willing to talk at length about the rumors surrounding the Steelers this offseason.
Acknowledging some discord between Ben Roethlisberger and Brown, while the Pro Bowl center disputed some of the alleged facts that had been reported, he did very little to explain what had actually occurred between the two star players.
These are just some of the more notable remarks from his five minute interview in the video clip above. Worth watching to get the full perspective.
“When you look at the bigger picture, there has been so much accomplished by everyone there. You can’t tell me a good phone conversation or a sit down can’t get things right. Hopefully it comes to that because things have been very memorable there. I’ve had a lot of great memories with a lot of guys and for that to end so dramatically and the way that people are printing it right now, it don’t sit well, but I think they can get it right.”
“For my opinion, I think it’s more of a time thing. Time heals everything ... People are just so quick to be judgmental on things, so quick to have the most negative thing in the world. Just lets things pass over. I know it was a disappointing season. Trust me, we’ve got a lot of great players on our team. We should be in the playoffs playing, I honestly think we should be still playing right now.”
“For fans that have been following a long time, I get it, it’s disappointing. Trust me, it’s disappointing for us. We all want it. So whenever things like that happen, sometimes you can overlook some of the bad things that have happened over the years. Most teams do it. When your winning everything's great. But you have a couple of losses back-to-back like that, we can always find reasons not to like a certain thing.”
With no mention of what those things were that people started to dislike, his remarks will have done little to end all the questions, but when pressed further, he maintained that Brown was “never a distraction.” And when it came questions about an alleged altercation between Roethlisberger and Brown during a walkthrough at practice, Pouncey claimed it had never happened.
“The things that were reported didn’t happen. The walkthrough part didn’t happened ... When you are around somebody for a long time, you can say a joke to them and maybe that person is feeling a little bad that day and maybe you take it the wrong way. The day before it wasn’t.”
Even if no footballs were thrown, it was clear from Pouncey’s attempts to explain the friction that can occur between teammates that something did happened between quarterback and receiver and he could offer no insights about when the two players might finally talk.
“They’re the best duo in Steeler history, you don’t want to talk? Two Hall of Famers that have done played with each other and did so much together, I just don’t understand what football and team is anymore.
“I know AB and I know Ben, we’re all older. When you get older you understand things. Now sometimes it might take a minute to call somebody. I know I’ve done argued with my brother before and I was so mad at him that I didn’t talk to him for two weeks.”
Painting a picture of two squabbling siblings, Pouncey still believes that everything can be sorted out between the two.
“At the end of the day, things can get worked out. Honest and truthfully feel that from both guys. From talking to Ben and to personally knowing AB and being in the draft class with him and being here a long time playing football. I know this football team, and I know that you get over things. It wasn't like anyone said anything bad about a family member. It was a football argument.”
A peaceful resolution to all the drama with AB would likely be in the Steelers best interests in 2019, both financially and on the football field. With the window of opportunity closing for Roethlisberger, trading away the league’s best receiver will do little to help the team’s Super Bowl aspirations in the few years he has left either.
However at this stage in the saga, it would appear that it is down to Brown to make the first move towards reconciliation given he is the one not responding to calls, something he currently appears unwilling to do. Should he still have that attitude come the start of the new league year, the front office may ultimately believe they have no choice but to trade him.