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Sports

Antonio Brown Throws Down the Gauntlet: New Team Will 'Play by My Rules'

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are learning the hard way what happens when a team needs their star players more than their star players need them.

Players like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are demonstrating what happens when players practice what they preach when they say, “I’ve made enough money, I don’t need this anymore.”

Bell missed the entire 2018 season rather than let himself be controlled by the franchise tag; he is now an unrestricted free agent and can sign wherever he wants or, if that doesn’t suit him, he can simply retire.

Brown seems to have taken a lesson from Bell’s holdout, and rather than engage in brinksmanship with the Steelers over his future with the team, Brown and the team agreed to part ways Feb. 19.

“Had a great meeting with Mr. Rooney today we discussed a lot of things and we cleared the air on several issues!” Brown tweeted afterward. “We both agreed that it is time to move on but I’ll always have appreciation and gratitude towards the Rooney family and (Steelers) organization.”

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Now it’s just a matter of working out the trade details.

In an interview with Jeff Darlington that aired Saturday on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” Brown made it clear that at this point, he’s far more concerned with playing on his terms than with being a good company man.

“I don’t even have to play football if I don’t want, bro,” he said. “I don’t even need the game. You know what I’m saying? I don’t need to prove nothing to anyone. If they wanna play, they gonna play by my rules.”

Whether teams are willing to play by Brown’s rules remains to be seen. He’s a 30-year-old highly paid veteran in a rookie-contract league who brings with him the baggage of quarreling with coaches and teammates.

Brown is due a $2.5 million roster bonus on March 17, so the Steelers have an incentive to work quickly in getting him out of town.

Would you want your favorite NFL team to trade for Antonio Brown?

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins have shown interest in Brown’s services; none of those teams is in Pittsburgh’s division, and the Redskins are in the opposite conference, so if the Steelers want to avoid having to play against their former star, there are no obstacles in the way for their front office.

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Brown’s “character issues” were on clear display in the ESPN interview, however. His refusal to accept any culpability for the breakdown in the Steelers’ locker room certainly will give otherwise interested teams pause when it comes to getting a deal done with Pittsburgh.

At the same time, teams have overlooked far worse if they thought it would improve their chances of winning football games.

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Boston born and raised, Fox has been writing about sports since 2011. He covered ESPN Friday Night Fights shows for The Boxing Tribune before shifting focus and launching Pace and Space, the home of "Smart NBA Talk for Smart NBA Fans", in 2015. He can often be found advocating for various NBA teams to pack up and move to his adopted hometown of Seattle.
Boston born and raised, Fox has been writing about sports since 2011. He covered ESPN Friday Night Fights shows for The Boxing Tribune before shifting focus and launching Pace and Space, the home of "Smart NBA Talk for Smart NBA Fans", in 2015. He can often be found advocating for various NBA teams to pack up and move to his adopted hometown of Seattle.
Birthplace
Boston, Massachusetts
Education
Bachelor of Science in Accounting from University of Nevada-Reno
Location
Seattle, Washington
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Sports




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