The Antonio Brown saga in Pittsburgh took another wild turn on Monday, thanks to some insight from the very player Brown looked up to as a young player.
Jerry Rice is widely considered the greatest receiver to ever step on an NFL football field, winning three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers and establishing himself as first ballot Hall of Fame player. For all of Rice’s accolades on the field, he may have just added “news breaker” to his repertoire.
Brown posted on his instagram story a screenshot of him video chatting with Rice, driving further speculation that Brown wants to join the 49ers. In a rare moment of insight from the their conversation, Rice revealed what many had feared.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. He wants to come here really bad.” – Rice, when asked about Brown potentially joining the 49ers via 95.7 The Game.
Brown’s admiration for Rice has long been noted, as he has painted portraits of Rice throughout his house and has openly talked about the love/respect for him on social media.
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This is just the latest buzz in what has been a constant whirlwind of news and rumors circulating around Brown after not answering phone calls from the Steelers front office in the days leading up to the team’s last regular season game. After a series of tweets between 49ers tight end George Kittle and Brown shortly after news broke of why Brown had missed the team’s last game, there has been heavy speculation Brown could find himself in San Francisco.
“If it was left up to me, he’d be here in a heartbeat.” said Rice in his interview Monday.
The blitz was already on for Brown to be in a 49ers uniform, yet the recent comments from Rice only doused fuel on the fire to get the once beloved Steelers receiver out of Pittsburgh. The Steelers cannot officially move Brown until March 13th, giving nearly two months of time and thought for the likes of Art Rooney II, Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin to decide Brown’s ultimate fate.
If Brown has any say, however, all signs point towards him packing his bags and going to the bay area.
Center J.C. Hassenauer Officially Signs with Steelers
Center J.C. Hassenauer has officially signed his new one-year deal with the Steelers.
This deal was initially reported last week and confirmed by Hassenauer’s agent, but has now been announced by the Steelers.
An exclusive right free agent, Hassenauer was almost a lock to return to Pittsburgh in 2021. His new deal with the Steelers is worth $780,000.
Hassenauer proved a vital piece along the Steelers’ offensive line a season ago, seeing action in 15 games and making four starts. He was on the field for 23% of the team’s offensive stats, while also appearing on 50 special teams plays.
Prior to Pittsburgh, Hassenauer signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2018, spending the first seven weeks of the season on their practice squad.
He played for the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football in 2019.
Mic Drop: JuJu Smith-Schuster’s Free Agency is About Business, Not Personal
Ever since the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger decided the future Hall of Fame quarterback will return for the 2021 season with a restructured contract, the attention has shifted to free agent wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. On this episode of Mic Drop on Pittsburgh Sports Live, host Mike Asti explains why fans need to learn that not every JuJu take is a personal attack and why it’s best for the Steelers business if the franchise and the 24-year-old receiver part ways.
Steelers Scout Mark Bruener Shares Insight into Unique Draft Process
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered many aspects of the NFL landscape, especially the scouting leading up to the NFL Draft, making an already unique, tedious process even more challenging.
Pittsburgh Steelers college scout Mark Bruener joined The Standard, the club’s behind-the-scenes web series, and provided some insight into the past year’s unprecedented scouting process.
The pandemic has presented Bruener with his fair share of challenges, but he has not allowed those circumstances to become excuses.
“My first approach was is I’m not going to make an excuse for the situation that I’m in,” Bruener said. “I’m going to figure out a way to do my job to the best of my ability and know that Kevin (Colbert) is not going to tolerate any excuses. And I needed to get my job done.”
Much like every aspect of our life over the past year, Bruener has had to resort to virtual discussions with coaches, as he was largely barred from scouting and meeting players at facilities.
“The ability for us to make contact with the schools, the individual coaches, all had to be done via Zoom,” Bruener said. “There was no personal interaction that we normally would get. And then you would follow up individually with the coaches to gain the information that you needed.”
Without those in-person evaluations, Bruener has had to watch on film more than ever before to ensure his assessments are accurate.
“But the bulk of my fall was spent in my office, watching film on my computer,” he said. “Instead of just watching three games on an athlete in particular to try to bring the evaluation, I tend to maybe watch five or six games, if that’s available. And because I can’t see that live look in some aspects.”
That being said, the virtually, at-home conditions have granted Bruener more flexibility in his scouting process than ever before.
“If you’re at a school, you have to get to the next school the next day. So you have to make sure that you get all that work done that day,” Bruener said. “Whereas now being home, you’re a little more flexible. So if you’re not able to finish that third game or fourth game by two o’clock, then you can get to it later on that evening.”
Bruener, who resides in Washington state, was able to attend a few games in person last college football season, but admits the atmosphere was bizarre at times.
“I went to a handful of games here in Seattle and in Oregon that I was allowed to attend, but it was so eerie Andy weird because there wasn’t any fans there.”
Selected in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft out of Washington, Bruener played 14 seasons at tight end. He spent the first nine seasons of his career in Pittsburgh, catching 137 passes for 1,197 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Bruener began scouting for the Steelers organization in 2018.