The 2018 NFL season has reached its coda. The vile and despicable Patriots narrowly defeated the Rams in the Super Bowl, thanks in large part to quarterback Jared Goff exhibiting a lack of situational awareness and object permanence generally reserved for first-term fetuses and Boy Wonder Sean McVay filling his khakis to the brim with sour, nervous diarrhea. New England is now home to six Lombardi Trophies, every one of which the Pats have claimed this millennium, which puts them in a deadlock with the Steelers at the pinnacle of the league’s all-time elite.
As if watching the Patriots, a team that has thoroughly established themselves as the Steelers’ daddy during the Ben Roethlisberger era, march unabated toward an eventuality that we all saw coming—the only people who genuinely believed the Patriots were actually underdogs were Jim Nantz, Bill Simmons, a handful of players on the Patriots, and maybe 60 percent of the repellent landbeasts that populate the Northeast—wasn’t bad enough, Yinzers have spent the last four weeks watching in abject horror as the once-peachy relationship between Antonio Brown and the Steelers rapidly deteriorates. So, since it’s been a minute since we’ve done a Stock Report, let’s start there:
Stock Down: Antonio Brown
The latest installment in the never-ending Antonio Brown Tragedy comes in the form of an alleged domestic incident between Brown and the mother of his child, which occurred last month at Brown’s Florida residence. According to the police report—which you can read in full here—the mother of Brown’s child drove to Brown’s Hollywood, Fla. home to deliver their daughter following a hair appointment. She then demanded payment for said appointment, and when Brown refused and told her to leave the premises, she positioned herself athwart the entryway, thereby preventing Brown from closing the door. In response, Brown, according to the aforementioned report, “used both hands to push her out of the doorway, causing [her] to fall backwards to the ground.” However, she did not complete a victim affidavit and insisted that she did not intend to press charges against Brown. As such, Brown was not arrested.
Tuesday, Brown’s attorney issued the following statement:
The closed police report proves that Antonio Brown did absolutely nothing wrong, as insinuated by the recent headlines. Unfortunately, the media alluded wrongdoing on the part of my client in a “domestic dispute” when in fact no wrongdoing ever occurred on his part. The complainant, who is the mother of Mr. Brown’s child, acknowledged that she refused to leave Mr. Brown’s property after being asked and further refused to leave the doorway of his personal residence. The complainant did not want to provide a statement or press charges, and asked to retract her report after it was made. the media must be held to a higher standard and should issue an apology to my client for harming his reputation without cause and without full report in their possession. Additionally, the complainant unnecessarily involved my client’s minor child in her false reporting, causing irreparable harm to a minor child. Therefore, Antonio Brown’s family law attorney, Jaclyn Soroka, Esq. will be filing an action with the court today seeing full legal custody of his child accordingly.
What this statement says, in essence, is that Antonio Brown did nothing wrong and that, as such, the matter is now a non-matter. This is all good and fine from a legal standpoint—for now—but it does little to absolve Brown of blame in the court of public opinion or, perhaps, in the omnipresent gaze of one Roger Goodell, the longstanding judge, jury, and executioner in the NFL’s disciplinary issues who has demonstrated on numerous occasions that an arrest is not necessarily a prerequisite to levy a suspension. Ezekiel Elliott, for example, served a six-game suspension—one that was infamously delayed thanks to great deluge of appeals—back in 2017 after he was accused of battering his then-girlfriend, despite not being arrested (to be fair, though, an extensive investigation by the NFL revealed “substantial and pervasive evidence” that abuse did occur, so I don’t mean to imply that Brown’s circumstances are analogous to those of Elliott). The NFL reportedly plans to conduct its own investigation, so it’s entirely possible we haven’t heard the last of this case.
The Steelers and Brown have looked to be headed toward a divorce for the past month, but never has that outcome seemed more inevitable than it does now. This isn’t necessarily to suggest that the Steelers somehow take domestic violence more seriously than any other franchise in the NFL—in fact, given that the late Dan Rooney once defended James Harrison after Harrison was accused of beating down his girlfriend’s bathroom door, snapping her phone in half as she tried to contact police, and slapping her across the face, one could be forgiven for arguing the inverse—but more so that, even if Brown does manage to evade the NFL’s gallows, public opinion regarding Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh has smashed right through the floor of rock bottom and settled neatly at a nadir whose constraints are unimaginable. I’m a very firm believer that time heals all wounds, but I don’t know if there are enough hours in our simplistic, meat-brained dimension to mend the festering avulsion that is the Brown/Steelers relationship.
Stock up: Le’Veon Bell
Reports trickled out last week suggesting that the Steelers could use the transition tag on free-agent-to-be Le’Veon Bell, who voluntarily skipped the 2018 season as part of his ongoing crusade to reset the running back market, and, friends, I am extremely into this idea.
The NFL’s transition tag is functionally akin to restricted free agency in the NBA. More specifically, it enables players to explore employment opportunities elsewhere and even negotiate contracts, but it grants their original teams right of first refusal, effectively permitting the original team to match any offer the player may receive from another team. In the article I hyperlinked up in the first paragraph there, we outline the myriad reasons why applying the transition tag is not an awesome idea—namely, that doing so could complicate the Steelers’ cap situation or prevent them from receiving what could potentially be a valuable compensatory pick, to say nothing of the fact that re-signing Bell could irreversibly stunt the development of James Conner and promising backup Jaylen Samuels—but, like, screw that. Can you even imagine the collective megatonnage of the takes that would ensue if the Steelers announced that “Oh, by the way, we’ve signed Le’Veon Bell to a $60 million contract”? It would be glorious.
Unfortunately, there is very little chance that the Steelers will actually apply the transition tag to Bell—even to facilitate some sort of sign-and-trade, as suggested by CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (who I am not entirely confident possesses the ability to accurately report on what color socks he’s wearing, let alone highlight the particulars of a complex transaction).
At this point, it probably behooves Bell and the Steelers to part ways on equitable terms; Bell can chase what he believes he’s worth in free agency, and the Steelers can move forward with the pieces they have in place.
Stock up: Steelers Twitter
Wednesday morning, the Steelers’ official Twitter account posted the following tweet:
Innocuous enough, right? Not so for Andrew, who wanted a little spice on his breakfast:
What mid-to-late 3rd rounder are we taking 20th overall this year— Andrew (@i_are_andrew) February 6, 2019
Now, it’s generally true that responding to a team’s social media profile with team-specific gripes makes you look like a huge moron; these accounts are managed almost exclusively by former public relations majors who just scheduled everything the night before in Hootsuite so they can sleep off their hangover at their desk, so directing your ire toward them will do little to initiate the change you hope to see. Functionally, you are screaming at the bank teller because you’re upset about interest rates.
HOWEVER: Andrew’s response is a big mood. It’s hard to be thrilled by the prospect of a pick in the back half of the draft when the Steelers have developed something of a penchant for “reaching.” Terrell Edmunds, a purported second-day prospect who the Steelers selected 28th overall in the last draft, had fleeting moments of bland okayness during the 2018 regular season, but the direction of his career trajectory has yet to be established. T.J. Watt, the Steelers’ first-round pick the year prior, is exceptional. No complaints there. The year before that, though, the Steelers used the 25th overall pick to select the cursed Artie Burns, a prospect who was on nobody’s radar during the first round. Hindsight is always 20/20, but here’s a list of some players the Steelers could’ve picked instead in 2016: Xavien Howard, Myles Jack, Chris Jones, Deion Jones, Kevin Byard, and Kendall Fuller. Burns was a bad pick at the time, and he’s a horrendous pick in retrospect. Your dog is a substantially better defensive back than Artie Burns, and, by God, Andrew is right to be upset!
Random Life Upgrade: Pot Roast
Since we’re quickly gonna run out of stuff to talk about this offseason, I’m gonna conclude each weekly Stock Report with a tip for instantly improving your life. If your life is already perfect, please consider the article over.
Okay, so I don’t wanna bore you with a verbose preamble about how I discovered this pot roast recipe during a spiritual journey through the dense jungles of Laos, so here is a decent recipe for a pot roast to impress your family and friends.
What you will need:
-2-3 pound chuck shoulder roast (If you live around Pittsburgh, you can get one of these at Giant Eagle for, like, $15).
-EV olive oil or canola oil
-Fresh garlic (maybe 5 cloves, minced; garlic powder is fine, too)
-Small onion, minced (likewise, onion powder is fine).
-Fresh thyme, rosemary, and sage
-The highest-quality beef stock you can find in your grocer’s soup section
-Salt and pepper
-Red wine or red wine vinegar
-Soy sauce (optional, but a decent umami enhancer if you’re into that kinda thing)
- Prepare a roaster pan and preheat oven to maybe about 300 degrees.
- Liberally coat the roast in salt and pepper. On the stovetop, heat a couple tablespoons of your cooking oil over medium-high heat. Brown the roast on all sides.
- Extract the roast and place in your roaster pan or dutch oven or whatever (probably a crock pot is fine, too, I guess).
- Using the same pan in which you browned the roast, throw in the diced onions. Centuries of innovation have brought us to this point; do not waste this opportunity. Cook over high heat until translucent. Add the diced garlic during the last minute or two of cooking (but don’t burn it! Scorched garlic will throw everything off).
- Add the browns onions and garlic to the topside of the roast. (If you’re using powders, skip step 4 and just cover the roast once brown). Add the herbs at this stage.
- I don’t really measure stuff, but at this point you wanna add maybe 2-ish cups of beef stock, a glug of red wine/red wine vinegar, another couple tablespoons of oil, and a dash of soy and Worcestershire sauce to the cooking vessel. Basically, you wanna ensure the bottom third of the roast is submerged.
- Cover the pan and roast/braise for 2-3 hours. After the first 90 or so minutes, give it a check. Remember, you aren’t cooking filet here; chuck is a crappy, tough cut of meat that responds best to low and slow cooking times. Take your time.
- Once the roast reaches completion, extract, wrap in foil, and let rest.
- In the meantime, run the leftover cooking liquid through a strainer or mesh sieve. Return the unsullied liquid to a saucepan and reduce over high heat until just slightly thickened. Shred or slice the beef and return to the sauce before cooking.