Antonio Brown Shouldn’t Be Scapegoat In Pittsburgh, Deserves New Contract

After a season of twerking, custom cleats, and Facebook live videos, one would think that Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Antonio Brown would’ve preferred to lay low following a loss in the AFC Championship.

Business is Boomin, at least for sports media outlets.

With Antonio entering the final year of his contract in 2017, all eyes have been on the five time Pro-Bowler as Brown seeks a new deal that would rightfully make him one of the top paid players at his position.

According to overthecap.com, Antonio Brown makes an average of $8,392,000 a season, ranking 20th out of all receivers. It’s no question Antonio deserves to be compensated more than players like Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Pierre Garcon and Vincent Jackson. (full list available here). Brown’s AFC North rival AJ Green makes nearly more than twice Brown’s salary, clocking in with an average of $15 million a year.

I’m not sure about you, but I know a hell of a lot of people that would take Brown over Green.

Antonio has far and away established himself as one of the best receivers in the league, if not claiming the title of the best. To think that a player of his caliber would do more damage than charity for his team would be some form of blasphemy.

However, not everybody likes to think so. Even those with ties to the organization.

Just a few days removed from a 36–17 loss on Sunday, various national outlets (Bleacher Report, NBC Sports, CBS Sports just to name a few) spewed multiple reports of the Steelers organization reportedly holding concerns that Brown cares more about personal stats than team wins, with reports even stretching to say that Brown pouted due to not getting the ball after a DeAngelo Williams touchdown in Sunday’s loss.

Antonio has even received criticism from local media, most notably from Mark Madden, a radio voice and columnist in the city of Pittsburgh.

“You’re never gonna win a championship with this guy” — Mark Madden in reference to Antonio Brown

Let’s take five seconds and breathe before anything else asinine flows out of our mouths.

I’ll go on record to say that Brown has his fair share of mental mishaps, whether it be drawing 15 yard flags for excessive celebrations or recording a post game speech for the whole world to see. Brown’s production did see a decrease in 2016, and his impact did appear to take an ever-so-little turn on the down side.

Yet to call Antonio a distraction and citing his envious eyes for the stat sheet over wins is essentially branding the word “selfish” on #84.

Let’s not forget, this is the same Antonio Brown who can be found blocking on run plays so others can score. The same Antonio Brown who takes time to spend moments with fans, inside and outside the stadium. The same Antonio Brown who ran circles around his current contract, and held out an approximate zero days even though he deserves more dough.

Brown even addressed this issue in an recent interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on January 4th, saying “It’s not all about stats” and referencing multiple times how he just wants to take home a Lombardi trophy. (You can read the article here)

Pretty selfish, right?

In regards to reports of Antonio “pouting” after another teammate scored, those also appeared to be grasped out of thin air. Even Indianapolis Colts Punter Pat McAfee agrees:

View image on Twitter

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Pat McAfee ✔@PatMcAfeeShow
NFL Network..owned/operated by the NFL..reported @AntonioBrown was pouting after 1st td..so, lying 2 make superstars look bad is good 4 biz?
12:44 PM — 24 Jan 2017

Clearly, you’re able to see Brown hold his hands up in celebration in the shot. Also, with nearly 67,000 people in attendance and countless cameras from the CBS crew, surely SOMEBODY would have caught it and immediately exposed it.

There appears to be a collective outburst at Brown by almost everybody but his own father. Is this a product of fan frustration? So called “Journalists” searching for click bait? Whatever it may be, one thing is for sure: Antonio Brown is just as valuable as anybody else on the roster. Any player who has a “down” year and still makes First Team All-Pro for a third consecutive year has to be seen as a valuable asset. Brown has already cemented his legacy among the best to suit up in black and gold (spare the hate and phones with cords older fans, he’s right up there with Swann, Stallworth and Ward already).

This off-season is sure to be a wild one for the reigning AFC North champions. With Le’Veon Bell’s contract up, Big Ben thinking retirement and a defense that is still probably in zone coverage from Sunday’s game, the Steelers will be a busy bunch. However, one of their top priorities will be ensuring Brown stays in the Steel City for the long haul.

Simply put, Antonio is the closest thing to reliable as you’ll get. Brown hasn’t missed a game since becoming a full time starter in 2013, tallying 100 catch seasons all four years and double digit touchdowns in all but one season. Brown commands double-team respect on almost every play, has elite hands and footwork, along with posing a danger on special teams as well.

Antonio also has no issues off the field, something that is a bit refreshing to say considering the past couple seasons. But more importantly, Brown loves to wear the black and gold. Antonio has great relationships with Roethlisberger, Tomlin, and Mr. Dan Rooney, all three vital being vital components to the organization.

Antonio loves Pittsburgh almost as much as city loves him.

You’d be a fool to not want a player at the caliber of Antonio Brown on your football team. Antonio is one of the best players in the league, fans, media members and fellow players all acknowledge this. Brown’s “issues” are minor compared to those of Odell Beckham Jr and Dez Bryant, both equally talented when compared to Brown.

The organization has it’s sights set on a Super Bowl run in the near future, and with a historical amount of projected cap space, it’s likely Antonio Brown is signed to a long term deal this off-season.

All the nonsense about Antonio is just an example of a slow day in the office for some, and will hopefully be cleared soon. The goal is to get back to this point next year, hopefully avoiding or going over the roadblock known as the New England Patriots. AB is an essential part of this team, and should the Steelers recreate their magic this year, we’ll only have one question for Antonio Brown:

How’s Business?

Donnie Druin is an award-winning writer from the Arizona Newspaper Association. Follow him on Twitter @DonnieDruin for everything sports, or to suggest streaming his next article on Facebook Live.