Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown played his hand in the new contract negotiations happening between himself and the organization, and as shocked as fans may be about this development, how he handles the next round of negotiations might be the most important part of this dilemma.
For a second, let's put aside the fact the Rooney family still runs the Steelers and Mike Tomlin has been stout in his belief of contracted players playing out their contract. With that put to the side, think about what Antonio Brown did yesterday. Although grossly out performing his current contract, Brown somehow - whether intentionally or not - let the cat out of the bag how he wouldn'd be attending voluntary workouts and wants a new contract.
That hand Brown was playing? He just played the wrong card. It isn't as if there have never been players within the organization who wanted a new contract and demanded such in some way, shape or form. Hines Ward and Mike Wallace were both in Brown's shoes. Neither worked out well for them. Both tried holding out, and it did absolutely nothing.
What's done is done. Brown has taken a beating from fans for his selfish acts, and certainly the team doesn't appreciate him going about his business in such a public way. Nonetheless, what he does next is the decision which could be telling in regards to how the team moves forward with a potential contract extension as well as how the media and fan base react to this situation.
If Brown is looking for someone to talk to about wanting a new contract, he should look no further than the stall in the locker room which reads the name Ben Roethlisberger on the name plate. Roethlisberger was in this situation the past few seasons. Media reports of Roethlisberger wanting out of Pittsburgh were swirling around the complex, and although Roethlisberger never publicly said he wanted out of Pittsburgh, he certainly wanted a new contract.
Players want the security of years and guaranteed money in a league where not much is guaranteed. Roethlisberger, like Brown, was performing well above his deal and wanted the insurance of his future being in Pittsburgh and being financially stable while being there. The major difference between Roethlisberger and Brown? Roethlisberger never aired his dirty laundry. Roethlisberger showed up to workouts, never missed a training camp practice due to a holdout and certainly never publicly lamented the organization for giving others extensions before him.
Brown going public might have been the worst mistake he made in this situation, but he is certainly able to rectify the situation. If he wants a new deal, he needs to start showing up. When minicamp and Spring workouts start, Brown being on the field will speak louder than anything he, or is agent Drew Rosenhaus, has to say in a statement. When Brown is asked about the contract, keep it private. Don't give the fans, media or internet hacks the opportunity to dissect your words to mean something it doesn't.
Brown is a fan favorite. Whether it is his incredibly strange 'What it is' video segments the receiver does for Steelers.com during the season, or his incredible play on the field...fans love No. 84. Brown might have stained his persona a bit with the news yesterday of his desire to get a new contract, but the damage isn't beyond repair. Does Brown deserve to be paid for his play on the field? No doubt about it. Should Brown continue to hold out to get what he wants? History shows those who do that are not successful.
How Brown handles the next step of this process will speak volumes about whether this is just another blip on the radar, or something which could be a huge distraction for the team heading into the 2015 season.