Antonio Brown burned every bridge in sight when he left the Pittsburgh Steelers, but would a return to the team be possible for one of the most mercurial players in the NFL?
Mike Tomlin is not holding his breath.
The Pittsburgh Steelers discussed his former wide receiver and more during an appearance on The Pivot Podcast. Asked about the possibility of Brown returning to Pittsburgh, Tomlin was candid:
“You all know that doesn’t happen.”
Tomlin seemed to concede that Brown could sign a one-day deal to retire a Steeler, but dismissed any idea of him dressing in black and yellow again:
“As for putting on a helmet and getting out of the tunnel and playing ball and stuff like that, man, he’s moved on, we’ve moved on. We can sit down and cut that and pretend that’s a realistic conversation, but we all know that’s not realistic, man.
“What I’m going to say about AB is this, man. We have had nine great years. I like this guy in a way that I can’t explain to you. Which I won’t even bother trying to explain to all of you because it seems like I’m defending it in a way, and for me, from that perspective, the nature of our relationship and what we have all done together requires no defense. You can digest it as you see fit. [Tomlin blows a kiss.] You know what I mean?”
Brown sadly left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17 last season and didn’t exactly behave like someone considering playing in the NFL again. He said he won’t have necessary ankle surgery until a team signs him in March and bluntly said fans shouldn’t expect to see him play football this season in May .
He did, however, indicate that he wanted to retire with the Steelers.
Would the Steelers organization be willing to do this? That remains to be seen, although Tomlin went out of his way to praise Brown as a player, albeit acknowledging things weren’t handled well on a personal level. Notably, he only used the past tense:
“I don’t think enough is said about this guy’s willpower. About this guy’s work ethic. About how fearless he played the game. Was fear ever a factor in his game?… I have never seen him blink on the football field. I have never seen him shy away from anything uncomfortable on the football field. I I’ve only seen him run through burning buildings on the football field. We talk about all these other things, man, but we don’t. Incredible willpower. Incredible work ethic. Incredible belief in himself. is what I think of when I think of the nine years I spent with this guy.
“With success, there are a lot of things. Some we deal with well, some we don’t. Some he handled well, some he didn’t. Some of them the have changed in ways that weren’t as appealing. have grown and grown in a big way…Success is a slippery red carpet.”
If that’s really the case for Brown, he’ll retire with 928 career receptions, 12,291 receiving yards and 83 touchdowns, along with seven Pro Bowl nods, a Super Bowl ring and a spot on the team. of the 2010 NFL decades. Good enough for a 5-foot-10 sixth round from Central Michigan.
Brown’s peak in Pittsburgh was one of the highest the sport of football has seen from a wide receiver, but even his most successful coaches will admit there are things he could have handled better. .