Just when you thought receiver Martavis Bryant was through causing a social media ruckus following an impressive Steelers victory, he jumped up and caused another one.
Last Sunday night, following a Week-6 road victory over the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, reports surfaced that Bryant was frustrated with not getting the ball enough and had recently asked for a trade.
This, of course, caused a week's worth of questions and answers, as head coach Mike Tomlin, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Roethlisberger's teammates and, obviously, Bryant, had to spend countless moments discussing the—say it with me--talented but troubled receiver's true intentions and if he really did want out of Pittsburgh.
The first social media ruckus came from The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and could be passed off as hearsay by those with an ax to grind against reporters. But this past Sunday night, mere hours after Pittsburgh's impressive Week-7 drubbing of the Bengals at Heinz Field, Bryant himself became an NFL insider, when he took to Instagram to one-up a troll who said receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was better than him by trolling his own teammate, and saying he was superior to the young rookie from USC.
And to make matters even worse, Bryant called in sick to work on Monday and wasn't at the South Side facilities for mandatory team meetings.
This, predictably, has led to more reports of Bryant wanting out of Pittsburgh.
You have to hand it to Bryant, who has pulled in just eight passes for 51 yards over the past three games. He might not be contributing much on the football field, but he sure is contributing a lot of other things.
For example, Tomlin and his players will now spend a second-straight week answering questions about Bryant, this despite coming off a second-straight impressive victory—one that has the Steelers sitting at 5-2 and in a tie for the best record in the AFC.
Answering those questions might become a bit of an irritant, as evidenced by this quote from guard Ramon Foster, who spoke to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat writer Ed Bouchette on Monday:
"No, he's not here. I don't know what happened. I think he called in sick today. I don't know. I just wish he were here to answer his own questions. You can't throw that stuff out there on social media land and expect no forest fires behind it."
Maybe Foster was a little upset because, in trying to make up for his dissing of JuJu on social media, Bryant made another post Sunday night, saying he got all the way back from his year-long drug suspension on his own and with no help from anyone else.
Are Bryant's teammates upset or irritated with him? It doesn't matter. Bryant has now become what anyone associated with football probably hates more than anything, and that's a distraction.
Bryant has also shifted the media and fan focus away from his team's pretty awesome start and onto himself.
What are people talking about right now? They're certainly not worried about any positive stories from Sunday, because Bryant, what little he's contributed on the field, and what might be fetched for him in a possible trade are the hot-button topics.
Do you think BTSC editor Jeff Hartman wanted to write an article about Bryant's latest social media gaffe first thing Monday morning? No. But he did, and what do you know, triple-digits in comments.
Do you think I wanted to write any commentary about it? No. But here I am doing it right now, and I'm sure I'll be accused of click-baiting and sensationalism the second this particular article is published.
Thanks a lot, Martavis.
On the upside, an article I wrote in late-April, following the Steelers selection of Smith-Schuster in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft (and following the first time Bryant dissed one of his receiver teammates on social media), may get a lot more traffic in the coming days, as people Google "Martavis Bryant disses teammate on social media."
Thanks a lot, Martavis!
But, on the downside, I’ll probably have to spend the next few days watching people butcher Bryant's first name on the Internet: "They need to cut that selfish Martavious Bryant!" will likely be the most-common example. Even worse, will be the people who butcher his name on talk shows. (It's one thing to spell a name wrong, but saying it wrong, after you've already heard the correct pronunciation...then again, Roethlisberger has been here 14 years and....oh forget it.)
I mean, I could stand it, if people were like, "Man, that Martavious Bryant is blowing the top off of defenses week after week!"
But they're not saying that because he's not doing it.
Martavis Bryant has contributed a lot in 2017—just not on the football field, where the Steelers need his help the most.