Things tend to come in threes, and such is the case for the Pittsburgh Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin early this season. First, Le’Veon Bell held out for way longer than anyone, including his teammates, ever thought he would. Then the team tied an improved Cleveland Browns team, and gave up a whopping 42 points to a Chiefs team in failing to secure a win in the first two games. But then came the third thing, and it was a doozy. Antonio Brown sends out a reference to being traded in a tweet and then doesn’t show up to a practice.
Which leads to the next question…..What should Mike Tomlin do about it? And that depends on what the story is.
According to Adam Schefter, Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, had the following to say about Brown’s reference to a trade.
“The tweet yesterday was not in reference to anything other than Antonio responding to a person he knows. It was not directed towards a trade, or wanting to be trading. Any idea he was asking for a trade is not accurate.”
But perhaps even more important for Tomlin to consider, was what Rosenhaus said about missing practice.
“Antonio had a personal matter. I talked to the team about it. His issue was unrelated to the tweet or his relationship with the team. Third, AB has an incredible drive to win. He just wants to win. That’s all that that is.”
Rosenhaus’s statement leaves a few things to ponder. First, one has to wonder when he spoke to the team about the missed practice. And next, was Brown excused from the practice or not, as at a Tuesday press conference Tomlin had the following to say regarding the issue:
“He was not (at practice) and I’m looking forward to visiting with him today – I’m not going to get into the details.”
There are those who believe that Brown should be suspended. There have certainly been issues with social media before, but missing practice could be viewed as a different kind of thing entirely. For example, former wideout Reggie Wayne said: “He loves football. Take it away from him then you see how he acts.” That said, sitting Brown will not help Pittsburgh get in the win column against Tampa Bay, and although the team is not in must win territory yet, they soon will be if they don’t get one this week.
Tomlin is in a very tough spot, and some might argue he has put himself in it with past decisions. But here’s the logical approach. If he knew about Brown’s reason for missing practice on Monday and excused it, then there should obviously be no ramification. But if he did not know about him missing practice in advance, or did not excuse the absence then that’s a different story. The consequence should be based on the severity of the infraction. At the every least, Tomlin should then send a message to the team by sitting Brown for a period of time on Monday. Some are calling for a full game suspension. But given that Brown missing any part of the game is likely to hurt the team’s performance, a full game suspension should only be followed through on if the reason for missing wasn’t even reasonable. For example, if it was only based on anger over the tweet he received.
Either way, any consequence should be given with the understanding that if Brown misses a practice/game for another unexcused absence, the suspension and/or ramifications would be greater. Brown is one of the greats to ever play the position and is a very hard worker. He must understand that the team cannot have team leaders missing practices, especially with what’s going on with one of its other stars in Le’Veon Bell.
The bottom line is that we need to know why Brown missed practice before deciding on the consequence