The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the NFL’s original franchises. Art “The Chief” Rooney suffered for nearly 40 years before his team finally won a playoff game in 1972 on the Immaculate Reception against the Oakland Raiders. His son Dan Rooney took over the team’s ownership and before his death, he passed the team on to Art Rooney II. I love the Steelers; it is the only sports team from my youth that has never betrayed my fandom. We haven’t always won in the now six decades I have been rooting for the Black and Gold, but I have always appreciated the way the Steelers conducted business.
The Steelers have had their trials and tribulations in the 21st century. Ben Roethlisberger was nearly traded due to his off the field issues, Martavis Bryant threw away his talent with drug issues and Ryan Shazier lost his career on a freak injury. However, no Steeler story is more bizarre than Antonio Brown and the thankfully small but vocal percentage of Brown fanboys that pop up all over social media, touting Brown as the greatest Steelers player. The Steelers success breeds fair weather fans who jump on and off the bandwagon, it is inevitable, and I don’t like to speak ill of anyone who loves the black and gold. But to paraphrase the immortal Ricky Bobby:
“With all due respect, and remember I am saying with all due respect, I didn’t know that you Antonio Brown fanboys had experimental surgery to have your common sense removed.”
I appreciated Brown’s talent on the field, I really did. But his six consecutive seasons of 100 catches while extremely impressive, translated to a Steelers playoff record of 3-4 with 1 conference championship game appearance. He also quit on the team, and intentionally no showed in the final week of 2018 when the team was still fighting for a playoff spot, causing him to be deactivated. His fanboys like to pretend that the Vontaze Burfict hit did all the damage and he was a model citizen prior. Conveniently forgetting the missed meetings, and an attempt to fight an elderly Dick LeBeau. Going back even further after Brown lost his only scholarship offer in high school to FAU for fighting, Brown thanked the college that let him walk on and earn a scholarship to Central Michigan by consistently displaying the same issues with attending meetings and practices he would later have in Pittsburgh. His all-world talent paired with a Nuke Laloosh attitude dropped him into the sixth round of the NFL Draft. I have often wondered if he had fungus on his shower shoes. Maybe Crash Davis told him:
“If you catch 100 balls in the Show, you can have fungus on your shower shoes and your fanboys will think it’s colorful.”
The Brown fanboys and their legion, pop up whenever the Steelers appear on social media, with the tired tripe that they should have chosen him over Roethlisberger. That he made Roethlisberger a Hall of Fame talent conveniently forgetting that he won two Super Bowls before Brown came to town and in one of the most clutch plays of the Super Bowl era, found Santonio Holmes against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII to win the championship. However, to this specific group of fans who apparently only followed the Steelers for the six years Brown was a star for the team, that point is irrelevant. In fact, to hear them tell it, it is more important to pile up commercials, Pro Bowls and stats that don’t translate to wins when they count in the playoffs. Remember the reason he quit on the Steelers is because the team dared to vote JuJu Smith-Schuster as the team’s MVP in his final season. The nerve of his teammates.
Didn’t they know Brown was the greatest receiver in NFL history? Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, they were just living in Brown’s world. Don’t you know he had one of the greatest six-year stretches in NFL history? Frankly, Skip Bayless should join this clueless cadre. If he can turn Baker Mayfield’s 11-game stretch culminating in a victory over the Steelers in the playoffs into a case that he is the greatest free agent in NFL history, imagine what he could do with Brown’s six-year stretch of games. Brown did rush the ball 31 times for the Steelers over his nine-year career with the team. It was proof he would have been the greatest running back in NFL history if Bruce Arians and Todd Haley would have just used him that way. Brown went 3 for 6 as a passer in his NFL career for 50 yards and a touchdown.
“Man, if Coach had put me in against the Patriots at quarterback, we definitely would have won state.” – Antonio Brown, shortly after the AFC Championship game in 2017, probably.
Coincidentally, the team movie on Saturday before the game was Napoleon Dynamite. Brown fanboys of course would point out if he had only played quarterback, he would have been a magical combination of Lamar Jackson and Warren Moon. In fact, he is the greatest quarterback in Steelers history, any disagreement says you weren’t paying attention during Brown’s Pepsi commercial or those six great seasons. I can’t tell which is which at this point.
I know, I know. I am so disrespectful of Brown’s acting accomplishments. He is the world’s greatest living actor, just ask him. The Emmy snub when they ignored his performance with Rob Corddry was the worst in television history. I shudder to think what is going to happen when the Grammy nominations come out if his name is not on the list. If you haven’t caught on yet, I am not poking fun at Brown himself necessarily. He was a valuable piece for the Steelers during his time with the team, and I wrote a piece last month saying that Mr. Rooney should let him retire a Steeler. However, there is more to being a Steeler than six years of top end production that didn’t produce a ring. That is the standard for Steeler greatness in my opinion.
I’m just an old guy who saw the great Steeler receivers in the Super Bowl era play. Brown is tied for third as best Steeler receiver in my opinion behind John Stallworth (insanely clutch and made the catch to win Super Bowl XIV) who retired with every major Steelers receiving record, and Hines Ward, the current all-time leading Steeler receiver who also has a Super Bowl MVP. I have him tied with Lynn Swann because Super Bowl X was ridiculous and he won the Super Bowl MVP. If you only have rooted for the Steelers since the six-year run of Brown catching 100 passes, do yourself a favor and re-watch Super Bowl X on YouTube here. Swann did it in a close game and they are some of the most acrobatic plays you will ever see.
What do you think, Steeler Nation? Are you tired of all the Brown fanboys insane rhetoric, or am I just an old guy who doesn’t get it? Please comment below, or on my Twitter @thebubbasq.