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Antonio Brown Says Steelers Tried to Build JuJu Smith-Schuster To Be Him



Former Steelers wideout Antonio Brown

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown recently revealed on the Cam Capone News podcast that he departed Pittsburgh in 2019 because he saw the writing on the wall that the team wasn’t going to win a Super Bowl. He had to do what was best for him, so he requested a trade.

Brown added more context on his controversial exit from Pittsburgh in an interview with VladTV, stating that JuJu Smith-Schuster winning team MVP also played a part in him wanting out. It appears that it still doesn’t sit well with Brown, as he didn’t specifically mention Smith-Schuster by name during the interview, but it was clear who he was referring to.

“At that time in 2018, I think I had 15 touchdowns, leading the NFL, 100-something, 1,200, 1,300 yards,” Brown said. “Then we had another young receiver. And you know the NFL is all about, even the Steelers now they’ve got two receivers they pit against each other. I think they gave the kid MVP over me. But I already had three or four.

“But for me, in my mind, MVP is Most Valuable Player. That goes out there and puts his soul on the line, heart on the line and help the team win. In my mind, that’s how I looked at it. And those guys were looking at it. We’re trying to build up another player to try and be who I am. And in the midst of that, I was like, we’re never going to win with that type of energy. So I’m going to request [a trade] and test the market and do what’s best for me.”

Smith-Schuster blossomed into a star wide receiver in his second year, posting career-high numbers in receptions (111) and yards (1,426). His popularity in the city and throughout Steelers Nation was astronomical. It wasn’t to the level of Brown, but the star wide receiver obviously thought he was infringing on his territory.

Brown had a career-high 15 touchdown receptions in 2018, but had fewer receptions and yards than Smith-Schuster. Team MVP is voted on by the players, and Brown won the award four times already in his career, so maybe players wanted to see someone else win it. It’s unclear how close the voting was.

Brown’s displeasure of Smith-Schuster winning the award over him is not new information, as he stated in a tweet in April of 2019 that Smith-Schuster’s crucial fumble against New Orleans cost the Steelers the season.

“Emotion: boy fumbled the whole post season in the biggest game of year,” Brown wrote. “Everyone went blind to busy making guys famous not enough reality these days!”

Brown also taunted Smith-Schuster for recording 42 receptions for 552 yards in 2019.

“Boo Boo Shoester was ready under 500 U Bum learn some Respect,” Brown wrote.

The team MVP snub was just the beginning of Brown’s eruption, as he reportedly threw a football at Ben Roethlisberger during a heated dispute during a walkthrough before practice and then decided not to practice for the remainder of the week, completely going AWOL. Mike Tomlin benched Brown for the regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals, and that was it for his career in the Black and Gold.

Brown won a Super Bowl title with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. But, like in Pittsburgh, he had a tumultuous ending. In Week 17 of the 2021 season against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium, Brown quit on the Buccaneers by taking his jersey, shoulder pads, glove, and shirt off and ran off the field in the third quarter. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians cut Brown on the spot. He was officially released four days later, concluding his NFL career.