No matter how much fans may have internally doubted the veracity of reports from Ian Rapoport claiming the Pittsburgh Steelers would have traded Antonio Brown by Friday, it was hard not to get swept up in the idea that the saga would soon be over.
Those up late on Thursday night might even have been convinced that Brown would soon be heading to the Buffalo Bills after the NFL Network analyst posted numerous tweets declaring a deal was almost done.
While several teams had leapt to the forefront — the #Raiders, the #Redskins, the #Titans — the #Bills were stealth. There are things to work out, but Buffalo is on its way to getting AB. And they do have a need at WR. https://t.co/JWgQuIZr71— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 8, 2019
From our breaking news segment in the wee hours of Friday morning: The #Bills are working to trade for #Steelers WR Antonio Brown. There are things to work out, but the deal is close to being done. pic.twitter.com/gAEf3q8doQ— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 8, 2019
Update from the Antonio Brown saga: The #Bills and #Steelers have been in aggressive talks about a trade and are close on compensation, sources say. It is not final. The main question is, one that has kept the trade from crossing the final hurdle, Does Antonio Brown show up?— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 8, 2019
In reality, it seems there was no deal even close to being agreed. If were are to believe the reports from Jason La Canfora of CBS on Friday morning, efforts to finalize a trade between Pittsburgh and Buffalo had fallen through days ago, and certainly before Thursday night.
The Bills are nowhere close to trading for Antonio Brown. And the Broncos and Cardinals and Jets were never in it. Be careful what you read these days, folks. It gets more ridiculous by the day. Especially in some parts.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 8, 2019
Any chance of an Antonio Brown trade to the Bills tell apart because the player would not commit to going to Buffalo. By the time the report came out the deal was dead— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 8, 2019
Brown was unwilling to go to Buffalo, period. Wasnt even a matter of money at that point. So the deal fell through. Steelers and Bills had stopped talking and both sides had moved on. Market for Brown is pretty bleak right now— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 8, 2019
Facts repeated Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Buffalo has spoken to Pittsburgh about a potential trade for WR Antonio Brown, as have a handful of other teams. Those talks occurred only in recent days. A source this morning called a Brown-to-Buffalo trade “unlikely.” Not out of the question but, at this time, “unlikely.”— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 8, 2019
Another source on a potential Antonio Brown-to-Buffalo trade said it will not happen. “I don't think the Bills trade was ever close to happening,” said one source involved in those talks. Steelers snd Bills briefly talked but “this is an old story. It was dead on Wednesday.”— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 8, 2019
And again by veteran Bills writer Vic Carucci. Providing more detail regarding the timeline in an article for Buffalo News.com.
“Talks started Tuesday and ran through Thursday. When Beane and Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert last spoke on Thursday, no deal was imminent.”
“Late Thursday night, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that the Bills and Steelers were closing in on a trade that would send Brown to Buffalo. The report came as news to Beane, who had intended to say nothing publicly about the Bills’ interest in Brown.”
A series of reports that appear to be supported by a public statement from Buffalo GM Brandon Beane.
A statement from GM Brandon Beane. pic.twitter.com/GK8wMqFTCA— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) March 8, 2019
And something a comment from Sports Illustrated reporter Robert Klemko also alluded to.
That reporters who are literally coworkers with the people they’re breaking news about can be so wrong on breaking news says a lot about where we are in sports media right now.— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) March 8, 2019
Not to mention the small fact of the player at the center of the news disputing any truth to it.
Antonio Brown is calling his trade to the Bills “fake news” pic.twitter.com/i95KYmZ8dr— Tyler Nordquist (@NordquistTyler) March 8, 2019
Those still wondering about this magical Friday deadline might also be interested to know that reports of its existence may also have been another media invention. A fact that Gerry Dulac would confirm in a report on Thursday.
“The Steelers would like to get a deal done before free agency begins March 13 and almost certainly before they are obligated to pay Brown a $2.5 million roster bonus on March 17. But there is not a “deadline,” according to a source, to complete a trade by Friday.”
BREAKING: The Steelers are still talking with “several” teams who are interested in trading for Antonio Brown, but there does not appear to be a hard-fast deadline to get a deal completed, per sources. Story coming on @PGSportsNow— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) March 8, 2019
The "reporting" on this AB trade has been something else. Teams "in" that never made an offer. Teams now "out" that were never in. Fake deadlines that never existed. We've run the gamut. Cant wait to see what they come up with next— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 8, 2019
If there is a lesson to be learned in all this, it is perhaps that we would should all re-evaluated the sources that we considered credible and keep in mind those who have mislead us before when getting overly excited about the next report we read. Fans have been misled far too often by national reporters as of late thanks to endless erroneous reports surrounding Le’Veon Bell or fake stories about Ben Roethlisberger’s request for a trade.
Sadly with free agency on the horizon and Brown seemingly no closer to finding a new home, fans will be left trying to sort out the fact from the fiction for quite a while longer.