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‘I Need AB at the X’: Antonio Brown Credits Ben Roethlisberger for Giving Him a Chance

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Antonio Brown Ben Roethlisberger Steelers

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown’s run of 100+ receptions and 1,000+ receiving yards in six straight years (2013-2018) is unprecedented in NFL history. Despite his off-the-field issues, Brown was a generational player and has a case to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Brown showed promise in his rookie season, but it wasn’t until his second year in 2011 that he really started to turn heads. In 2011, Brown recorded 69 receptions for 1,108 yards (16.1 average) and two touchdowns. He was also named to the Pro Bowl that season as a punt returner.

In just his third season, the Steelers signed Brown to a five-year, $42.5 million extension that included an $8.5 million signing bonus on July 28, 2012. Mike Wallace was in a contract dispute and holding out from training camp at the time.

During a recent appearance on The Pivot Podcast with former teammate Ryan Clark, Brown credited Ben Roethlisberger for giving him a chance, as offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was reluctant to play the young receiver.

“Ben Roethlisberger (is) the only reason I even started starting for the Steelers. Literally, he had to go tell Bruce Arians like, ‘Yo, I need AB at the X. Let me have him run these plays,” Brown said.

Brown added that Arians was holding him back from reaching his full potential for years.

“Ryan Clark knows my relationship with Bruce Arians. How many years, you know, Bruce Arians (was trying) to hold me back? Brown said.

Clark admitted that “it was a while.”

Ironically, Arians gave Brown a second chance late in his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the two won a Super Bowl together. The tenure didn’t end well, however, as Brown infamously stormed off the field with his shirt off at MetLife Stadium in Week 17 of the 2021 season. Brown was cut shortly after, and the shirtless outburst moment ended up being Brown’s last NFL game.

Former Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said during a recent appearance on the All Things Covered podcast that Brown is without a doubt a Hall of Famer. He thinks it’s not even debatable.

“I don’t think that can even be debated,” Colbert told former Steelers cornerbacks Bryant McFadden and Patrick Peterson.

Brown wasn’t the biggest, strongest or fastest, but his incredible work ethic separated him from the rest of pack. His work ethic was often cited as obsessive.

“The thing that separated AB was his work ethic. He might not have been the first in the building, but boy, when he got in there, it was on. On the practice field, every rep he was trying and he was trying to dominate. And for the most part, he would,” Colbert said.

“We all get caught up in 40 (yard dash) speeds, and I’m still gonna be the old school. Let’s watch the film. Who’s getting deep, who’s making plays? And AB could do that in every phase of wide receiver play. The thing he developed was that ability to make that contested catch against corners that were bigger than him.”