Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown is not shy, and after a three-week absence from organized team activities, he vented in an odd rant session Tuesday in his return to the team.
“I needed a little personal time with myself to get my mind right,” Brown said of missing the majority of OTAs. “The game requires a lot of mental happiness. The older you get, the more you start thinking about what’s important. I have five kids. All that’s left for me to do is a win a championship. I had to take some time off to spend time with my family to see what’s important for me.”
Brown, who agreed to a contract extension in February of 2017 for four years and $68 million, which will pay him $17 million annually over four years and $18.5 annually for three years, said he had to straighten out his priorities.
“I started to think about what’s important, if I’m playing football to make a lot of money?” Brown said. “Or am I playing football to take care of my family? Those are some of the decisions I think about when I don’t come here every day.”
Then things went sideways in the roughly seven-minute interview, with Brown saying he doesn’t “get a chance to express” himself.
“Everyone is always telling us to bottle everything up and say nothing,” he said. “When I reflect on my career, there are a lot of people who put a lot of pressure on me … when I take time to reflect on the guys who made it hard on me for no reason. I don’t hate those guys. I love those guys. But it’s good to get those things out of your mind in regards to people who put pressure on you.”
Brown then went on to attack the media for suggesting his absence from OTAs had something to do with Steelers veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also missing them.
“I’ll play with any quarterback no matter who’s here,” Brown said. “I play with any quarterback. I play with the Steelers. It’s not one guy. You guys write the stories. I wake up to Google alerts. I’m constantly under pressure. I can’t go nowhere and work out by myself. Fans come meet me at the field. I can’t do anything normal. My mom and my kids see it. We have to deal with these types of things.
“I started to think to myself ‘Am I really free?’ I can’t really express myself in this game. I can’t really tell you guys how I feel. You guys put pressure on me all the time. Am I really free? I go to ask myself that in regards to taking away time from my kids. I had to get away to free my mind.”
Brown then vented some more when he was asked about the absence of running back Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers placed the franchise tag on Bell for a second consecutive year and have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal before both sides are bound to a one-year tender worth $14.544 million for 2018.
“People ask me about Le’Veon,” Brown said. “What do you think he should do? I just said show up to work out. Now you guys write the article saying Le’Veon should show up. There is constantly pressure. Am I really free? What am I really playing for this game for? To acquire records for who? When I’m done playing no one will remember what my stats were in 2016 or 2015. Those are things I have to clear my mind of, getting away from the game. There are a lot of issues this game presents that you guys aren’t really covering. I’m just left to deal with the madness from my household which guys make up and create. And no one really cares.”