This is where we are now in the messy relationship between the Pittsburgh Steelers, stellar wide receiver Antonio Brown, General Manager Kevin Colbert and Ben Roethlisberger: All that’s missing is a Kardashian.
In the latest installment of a get-yer-popcorn reality show that swirled throughout the team last season and just keeps going, Brown, for whom the Steelers are entertaining trade offers, maintained that he isn’t angry about Colbert’s comment that Roethlisberger “has 52 kids under him.” Angry or not, the remark, which Colbert later tried to walk back, clearly hit a sore spot, particularly after a season in which Roethlisberger called out teammates in radio interviews.
“Of course [Colbert] tried to clarify because, you know, he stated the truth and he’s going to backpedal on his words,” Brown told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington. “But what grown man is calling another grown man a kid? ‘Fifty-two kids.’ Like, you don’t have no respect for these guys? Like, these are the guys that go to work for you. And that’s what I’m telling you guys . . . that’s my issue. You know what I’m saying? It’s all about respect.
“ . . . Things [are] not getting better. They’re not changing. You know what I mean? He just stated it. There’s 52 kids and it’s this guy [Roethlisberger]. Bro, it’s one team. . . . So that’s what it is, man. Just understanding truths.”
Colbert sought to explain his “52 kids” comment last week, explaining how the team was all-in with the 37-year-old Roethlisberger while moving on from Brown and Le’Veon Bell, a contract holdout during the 2018 season.
“In referencing to our ‘younger players,’ what I am referencing is Ben is the only player [on the roster] who has ever won a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers,” he said. “ … I was referencing the younger players on our team and their lack of experience in the Super Bowl-winning environment, and Ben is only one who can say he’s done that. …
“Does that mean … we have a bunch of juveniles or anything like that? No. of course not. We’ve got some really good veteran players like a Cam Heyward or a Maurkice Pouncey who are unquestionable leaders as well. But they are still not the Super Bowl-winning type of player that Ben Roethlisberger is, and that’s why he is and will continue to be the unquestioned leader of this team. And I still think it would be valuable for all our players to recognize that.”
Brown has requested a trade and Colbert has made it clear he is listening to offers, but he is seeking “significant compensation” for a receiver who has had six consecutive 100-catch seasons. Brown was benched for the team’s season finale when he failed to show up for a Week 17 workout.
In a conversation with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on HBO’s “The Shop,” Brown wasn’t letting up, saying he was being unfairly labeled as a distraction. “That’s the narrative they try to create,” he said. “Once you’re doing your own thing, it’s like, ‘This guy’s a distraction, he’s this type of guy.’ All I’ve ever been is a guy who came from Central Michigan, sixth round, who worked his a-- off.”
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