In case you don't remember, in the days leading up to the Steelers’ Week-13 clash with the Bengals on Monday Night Football, the status of superstar receiver Antonio Brown was up in the air, thanks to a toe injury that prevented him from practicing last weekend.
The consensus among many was that, if Brown didn't play, Pittsburgh wouldn't win.
It was just that simple.
Brown did play in what became a 23-20 Steelers victory, but thanks to so many headlines taken from Monday night's game, his stat-line that included eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown went mostly unnoticed.
I realize that with things like the scary injury to Ryan Shazier, along with those ongoing antics involving villainous Bengals defender, Vontaze Burfict, Brown's performance may have taken a backseat.
Or, do I mean it was taken for granted?
The dude's toe was in such bad shape, he couldn't even cut properly, yet, Brown managed to do what he always does, and that's fight off double-teams and come up clutch—like the game-tying touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter, when he still managed to hold on to the football (and his consciousness) despite being blasted in the head by Bengals safety George Iloka, who, by the way, wasn't even suspended.
It's cool, though. I realize that, just like a lot of fans and the media, the NFL may take Brown and his greatness for granted.
But let me ask the league something, do you even receiver, bro?
Antonio Brown does.
In fact, with 596 receptions for 7,611 yards since the start of the 2013 season, he's receiver'd better than any other receiver in a half-decade-span in NFL history.
I'm looking at you, Marvin Harrison.
Hey, Jerry Rice, you had a bunch of great 5-year stretches during your illustrious career, but you never receiver'd like Antonio Brown has over his past five seasons.
What about you, Paul Warfield?
How about you, Don Hutson?
Didn't think so.
Don't get me wrong, it isn't as if Brown needs people to sing his praises for him. And he certainly doesn't need a receiver translator similar to President Obama's Anger Translator (Brown spent all of Week 2 assuring Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes of his greatness—including his undoubtedly self-imposed nickname of Tony Toe Tap), but it sure does seem like his performances are just now accepted without the praise they are usually worthy of.
Speaking of tapping his toes, how many times has Brown done that this season alone?
Remember the catch on the sidelines against the Packers two weeks ago? I still don't know how he did it (maybe that's how he hurt his toe, since there isn't a toe alive that should be able to do what all 10 of Brown's toes did on that play).
Remember the one against the Titans on Thursday Night Football?
What about the Immaculate Extension last year?
What about too many late-game clutch receptions/touchdowns to even count anymore?
Brown has done so many great things in 2017, he's now gaining some late-season momentum as a league MVP candidate.
Will he win it?
Probably not. After all, he's a diva. He's selfish.
He throws Gatorade coolers on the sidelines, and he Facebook Lives his teammates in the locker room after big playoff wins (two incidents that drew more criticism this year alone than his countless great plays have drawn during his entire career to date).
I know Brown doesn't need it, but I'm going to sing his praises anyway.
Again, do you even receiver, bro?
Not like Antonio Brown. Nobody receivers like Antonio Brown--perhaps in the entire history of the NFL.