It’s been a tremendously long off-season if you’re in any way associated with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Between missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013, the Antonio Brown drama and watching people in New Orleans ironically throw fits about a missed pass-interference call, we’ve undoubtedly reached reality television levels in Pittsburgh.
Yet the past few days have been quiet, following a storm of back and forth comments from Steelers president Art Rooney II, and social media posts from Brown. With the NFL Pro Bowl taking place this week, six representatives from the Steelers are in Orlando, Florida to take part in the annual all-star game. Naturally, questions about Brown were brought to their attention, and the responses may surprise you.
Per Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports.com, Maurkice Pouncey, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Alejandro Villanueva all “expressed hope” that Brown and the Steelers would be able to settle their differences. Pouncey expanded on his views, telling Missi Matthews of Steelers.com that time heals everything, as he likened Brown/Roethlisberger to family members fighting, saying things “you don’t mean”.
The recent words of encouragement from teammates are a potential breath of fresh air for Brown, who has received little to no public support for his actions since week seventeen of the regular season. Last week, Joe Haden posted a post of support for Brown on his Instagram page.
Despite what teammates may think, the true power of whether or not Brown stays still rests in the hands of President Rooney. If his recent public statements are any indication, it will be a surprise to see Brown return to Pittsburgh in 2019, although Rooney did say he would speak to key franchise players and get their input before making a decision. Note: Pouncey and Roethlisberger, who are both team captains, have now both publicly come forward and stated they would like Brown back.
With a little under two months before the Steelers can officially move Brown, momentum is starting to swing in favor of keeping Brown, at least from a teammate perspective. Only time will tell if the support is enough to make Rooney retain Brown for 2019.