Now that Antonio Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers seem certain to part ways, the wide receiver is no longer being shy about the status of his relationship, or lack there of, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
In an appearance Friday on LeBron James’s HBO show “The Shop,” Brown lambasted Roethlisberger’s leadership style and his play during the 2018-19 season.
“All year, the dude called me out,” Brown said of Roethlisberger. “We lose a game, he’s like, ‘Damn, AB should have run a better route.’ "
In particular, Roethlisberger was critical of Brown following a late-November loss to the Broncos. The quarterback blamed Brown for a late-game interception that sealed Pittsburgh’s defeat, chalking up the blunder on his target’s poor route-running. When questioned about his insistence that the interception was Brown’s fault, Roethlisberger said (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), “I think I have earned the right to be able to do that with as long as I have been here and I’ll just be just as critical of myself [in the media] as well.”
That hasn’t sat well with Brown. After tweeting in February that Roethlisberger has an “owner mentality,” Brown reasserted on James’s show that Roethlisberger treated teammates like he owned the team.
“That’s the type of guy he is. He feels like he’s the owner,” Brown said. “Bro, you threw this [expletive] to the D-line. How the [expletive] am I going to run a better route? You need to give me a better ball.”
In an interview with ESPN’s Jeff Darlington last week, Brown was even more candid, revealing he and Roethlisberger did not have much of a relationship away from the field and their bond on it was significantly worse than Brown’s prolific statistics let on.
"Criticism really is a part of the job, you know what I'm saying? I answer criticism with achievement,” Brown said. “But, you know, and the professional level is, like, yo, like, if I'm your guy, make me know I'm your guy. But don't say I'm your guy and then point the finger. Don't say I'm your guy and then don't throw me the ball the whole first quarter.
"I would’ve liked for me and Ben to be cool. You know what I mean? I thought we was cool. But when I think . . . I’ve been to his house one time. He’s been to my house one time. You know what I mean? We don’t work out in the offseason. You think that’s winning? That’s not winning.''
He said he does not “take any blame” for the breakdown between him and the Steelers and expected the team to trade him because it is “what’s good for their business.”
And though there are reportedly a number of teams interested in Brown, the front-runners are three teams that don’t appear to be in playoff contention. The Raiders, Redskins and Titans have emerged as the top candidates, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and Pittsburgh is asking for a first-round draft pick in return. The Steelers can avoid paying him a $2.5 million bonus if they move him by March 17.
“They want to start a fresh offseason with no bad blood so their team could just focus on football,” he said. “No distraction from any player. So I think they’ll get it done.”
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