The long awaited meeting between Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and owner Art Rooney II finally took place. The mercurial receiver and the owner got together in Florida on Tuesday, had an amicable meeting, and mutually agreed to part ways. When news of the meeting broke, many wondered if it was a last-ditch effort by both sides to mend fences. All Brown wanted was a fresh start and guaranteed money. All Mr. Rooney was really looking for was a smoother ending to the Brown era in Pittsburgh. Both parties will get what they want, but there’s much work yet to be done to make it happen.
Brown and Mr. Rooney Finally Clear the Air
For the first time since week 17 of this past season, Brown has finally spoken to a member of the Steelers organization. Brown and Rooney II finally met in Florida to address Brown’s behavior, what led to it, and where to go from here. The only certainty ahead of the meeting was that Brown’s nine year career in Pittsburgh was over. The only remaining questions were, how would he depart and, how ugly would it get? Brown simply wants out despite having three years left on his contract. Rooney II wants as much as he can get in return for this generation’s best receiver.
Brown’s behavior indicated he was trying to force Rooney II to release him so he’d control where he went. Rooney II wasn’t about to release him and get nothing in return. As amicable as this meeting appears to have been, make no mistake about it, Mr. Rooney held all the cards. Brown knew it too, which is why he agreed to meet. While he may have had the opportunity to air his grievances, the terms of his departure were likely dictated to him. Chances are the smiling photo of Brown and Rooney II is just the first step in raising Brown’s trade value.
The End of the Brown Era in Pittsburgh
The meeting between Brown and Rooney II was nothing more than a means to an end. Sure, they may have made nice and cleared the air on some things, but it was all about closure. Closure on a professional relationship and a nine year tenure in Pittsburgh. The next step for Brown is raise his value so the Steelers can get an adequate return. That means showing contrition if he wants a new team sooner rather than later.
Rooney II didn’t give him, or his agent Drew Rosenhaus, permission to seek a trade. He will control how this plays out. However, because he’s a fair man, he may have agreed to help seek a trade to certain teams like say the San Francisco 49ers. Either way, Brown has almost certainly played his last game for the Steelers. While nobody wanted things to end like this, Rooney II will put the Steelers needs above all else.
The Bottom Line
No matter how you feel about Brown, it’s okay to appreciate what he accomplished during his nine years in Pittsburgh. It would have been great to see him finish his career wearing the Black ‘n’ Gold, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The Steelers always seem to do a great job finding the next great receiver, and are most certainly in good hands with JuJu Smith-Schuster. Even though Brown will be gone, we’ll always have the helmet catch that propelled the Steelers to Super Bowl XLV and the “Immaculate Extension”. Those moments will always belong to Pittsburgh.