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A Letter From the Editor: Even the brightest NFL stars can come crashing down

What exactly happens when players start to experience success in the NFL?

2011 AFC Championship: New York Jets v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

This week’s letter from the editor all stemmed from a simple question from a young Steelers fan the other day:

“What Steelers jerseys do you have?”

When I answered I have many, but they are all of just one player, the young fan looked puzzled. He finally asked, “Why do you just have Ben Roethlisberger jerseys?”

I went on to tell him how not only is Ben Roethlisberger my favorite Steelers player, has been since 2004, but it was always a safe choice. I still recall receiving my No. 97 jersey as a young kid. No, not Cameron HeywardKendrell Bell.

Fresh off his NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award, I thought Bell’s jersey was a sure thing. The sky was the limit for the young inside linebacker, but no one had the forward thinking to know how weak his ankles were. It ultimately cut his career short.

I still have that Bell jersey hanging in my closet, and ever since, purchasing a jersey is something I take very serious. When others ask what jersey they should buy, not only do I reference the Jersey Rules here at BTSC, but talk about trying to find a jersey which will last a long time, or forever.

You can go with a retired player whose jersey will never go out of style:

  • Jerome Bettis
  • Hines Ward
  • Heath Miller

You can wear those jerseys anywhere, anytime and no one will ever say a thing. However, if you roll up to Heinz Field wearing your Jarvis Jones jersey, you might get some looks/comments.

This is where things come full circle.

If you would have asked me prior to the 2018 regular season which jersey would be a safe bet, I would have rattled off a list of players who I felt confident would be on the team for the long haul.

  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Ryan Shazier (jersey will forever be a good purchase)
  • Cameron Heyward
  • T.J. Watt

and I would have even added one more to the list — Antonio Brown.

After Brown has essentially forced himself out of Pittsburgh, it makes me wonder how in the world we have gotten to this point. What ever happened to the young 6th round draft pick who scored his first NFL touchdown the first time he touched the football on a kickoff reverse against the Titans in Tennessee?

What happened to the happy-go-lucky receiver who hosted the show “What it is”?

What happened to the feisty player just trying to make a name for himself, and going against Ike Taylor so many times in training camp many fights ensued because of it?

You know...this guy:

Pittsburgh Steelers 2010 Headshots Photo by NFL via Getty Images

How in the world did we get to this point?

I guess it goes to show even the purest, and simplest, stars in the NFL can come crashing down.

Brown is no longer Antonio Brown, but A.B., and A.B. is someone completely different. A ‘me’ player who cares about winning, but wants to ensure he is one of the main reasons for the victory.

A.B. is the player who, when getting a new contract, showed up to training camp in a more extravagant way year after year. His autographed Rolls Royce was followed by a chauffeur driving a classic Rolls Royce and last year dropped in via helicopter.

A.B. is the player who sent out a ‘Thank You’ tweet to Steelers fans, and didn’t show a single fan in the entire video. It was a “look at me, and what I did” video.

Mention Antonio Brown to anyone who follows the Steelers, or the NFL for that matter, and the conversation will turn sour fast. It wasn’t always that way, but it just goes to show you life in the NFL can change quickly.

Kinda makes me worry for the future of JuJu Smith-Schuster...