After months of hemming and hawing, shucking and jiving on multiple fronts, the Pittsburgh Steelers parted the “green sea” and shipped their former disgruntled, discombobulated and so-called disrespected wide receiver Antonio Brown to the black hole, commonly known as the Oakland Raiders.
Since the final game of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2018 season, when Brown decided to be a spectator in the Steelers’ possible playoff-clinching game against their AFC North Division opponents the Cincinnati Bengals, the saliva has been flowing heavier than a pack of hungry mad dogs on the loose. Brown showed up on the Steelers sideline wearing a mink coat, appearing as if he was more suited to be competing on a “Dancing with the Stars” episode than on the football field. I have a fact-based theory that I am going to share with you and whether you are pro or con, I am hopeful that I will provide a little food for thought for a few of the “fact-starved” minds out there. Let’s go back and review the tape.
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict tried to send Brown to the “bone orchard” with an undertaker-like hit at the end of a playoff game against the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in January 2016. That questionable decision by Burfict drew a flag that led to the Steelers’ game-winning field goal.
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Antonio Brown is as selfish, narcissistic and vain off the field as he is talented and gifted on it. Brown obviously did not want to be a member of the Steelers anymore, but unlike his former teammate, Le’Veon Bell, Brown was unwilling to forego a season’s salary just to prove a point. He also was not going to risk a season or career-ending injury competing against the lowly Bengals, a few of which were for all intents and purposes a bunch of “nutcakes” whose primal screams at the “ball” could only be silenced by the blood of the Steelers flowing freely onto the dance floor.
Antonio Brown’s decision not to compete against the Bengals at a crucial time was flawed, but economically effective for him. Bell unknowingly and unwillingly provided the compass for Brown to strategically exit the Steel City and void his contract with the Steelers and ink a new deal, projecting him into the cash and draft pick-laden universe of the Oakland Raiders.
Le’Veon Bell is a game-maker, Antonio Brown was a game-breaker. How many defensive coordinators double-teamed Bell? Bell cannot stop defenses from doubling up on the new number one wide receiver of the Steelers, Juju Smith-Schuster. I don’t see Bell breaking the running back “bank” for the following reasons.
First and foremost, Rams running back Todd Gurley received huge windfall for his performance and projected performances predicted major fireworks but Gurley was a major dud when it came to the postseason. Gurley also experienced a few bumps and bruises during the 2018 season that may have contributed to his overall decrease in production. Secondly, Bell also benefitted from Brown, who was, on many occasions, double-covered by an extra safety employed in “dime” defenses being unable or unwilling to stack the box trying to prevent Bell and the Steelers from being successful at running the football.
Did the Steelers receive fair market value from the Oakland Raiders’ trade for Brown? Probably not. Will Le’Veon Bell make up for the $14 million-plus that he sacrificed in 2018 in order to graze in the greener pastures of another NFL team? Emphatically, no.
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