Plenty of people have weighed in on the Antonio Brown-Steelers drama, but we might have received our best perspective Thursday.
Former Steelers linebacker James Harrison — who rose from undrafted free agent to star contributor for Pittsburgh before he was unceremoniously released in the middle of the 2017 season — joined NFL Network’s Super Bowl Live on Thursday to discuss a variety of topics, including Brown and the Steelers. It sure sounds like the Brown-Steelers marriage is all but over, and per Harrison, coach Mike Tomlin is deserving of most of the blame.
“I think that only changes when you start from the top, you got to start from the top, and that starts with head coach,” Harrison said of the seemingly never-ending drama coming from Pittsburgh. “He has a thing where he says, ‘I’m going to treat everybody fair but I’m not going to treat everybody the same.’ Your fairness may be interpreted as favoritism to other players. And the fact that you’re treating everybody what you call fairly but not the same may be interpreted different by different players. And I think right now it’s a combination of that going on and maybe a little bit of a lack of actual leadership. Someone that’s saying it’s going to be A and B to get to C.”
Not a surprising take from Harrison, who was dumped after coming out of retirement to fill a need at edge rusher for the Steelers. In Pittsburgh’s defense, Harrison said himself he asked to be released multiple times near the end of his time with the Steelers, primarily because they weren’t playing him. But it’s evident that there’s some lingering dissatisfaction within Harrison, who finished the season with the New England Patriots and stuck with them through Super Bowl LII.
In fact, this doesn’t seem to be about Brown at all, but Tomlin, who Harrison said in 2017 refused to grant his request for release because he wanted to protect against potential injuries. Harrison went on to say Thursday that these current issues that are now bubbling to the surface have existed for a while under Tomlin, who runs a fair-yet-unequal ship, but were hidden by a cast-iron lid called winning.