Bruce Arians was on the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff back when the team selected Antonio Brown with the 195th pick of the 2010 draft, and Arians worked with Brown for two seasons before he was fired following the team’s Wild Card exit at the conclusion of the 2011 season. That connection was enough for Adam Schefter to probe Arians for insight into Brown’s tumultuous finish to the 2018 season on Schefter’s ESPN podcast.
Arians remembers the young Antonio Brown as “the hardest working” player, and credits Brown’s contributions with helping get Pittsburgh to the Super Bowl in his rookie season. But that generosity came after Arians described latter-day Brown as a “diva” who needs to do more of “those little things”:
“From afar, it’s just too much miscommunication, too much diva. You know, I just don’t—I’ve heard so many stories. I like Antonio, he plays as hard as anybody on Sunday, and he practices hard. He’s just got to make better decisions off the field, be on time, do some of those little things.”
Unfortunately, Schefter made no effort to probe the “so many stories” line, so your imagination will have to fill in the blanks. On the whole this is a less noxious take than doing a touchdown dance over passing on Brown in the draft nine years ago, or scratching him from your All-Pro ballot over “good conscience” concerns, but maybe we can do better than affixing the diva label to the most productive and durable receiver of the last decade because his season ended on a rotten note. Or at least come with something more convincing and definitive than “be on time.”