As A Fan, The Steelers Have Become Easier To Root For

A last look at Bell and Brown’s antics helping to derail the 2018 season

Matt Koll
March 12, 2019 - 11:57 am
Antonio Brown & Le'Veon Bell

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

For me, today I take a deep breath in and exhale out.

And I smell fresh air.

The stench of perpetual drama has, at least for now, subsided.

I feel like I just rode the Musik Express or the Bayern Kurve (why is that always broken down?) five times straight at Kennywood and I’m finally starting to see straight again. 

For the past 10 months or so, the Steelers and Steelers fans have been met with a constant barrage of things happening with their Black and Gold off the football field.

This weekend marked the unofficial end to this previously unrelenting cycle when it was announced that the Steelers agreed in principle to a deal to send Antonio Brown to the Raiders for a 3rd and 5th round pick.

Maybe we need some closure on the whirlwind this past season was.

Let’s travel back through the summer months, where Steelers fans were left waiting and wondering if Le’Veon Bell would be signed to a long-term contract. The news was encouraging at first, Bell said himself that talks were progressing a lot better than they had the year prior.

The summer bore on with no news of a deal, Bell was given the franchise tag again and was a no-show at training camp in Latrobe. Meanwhile, when the Steelers were still on the South Side, Antonio Brown made his first waves of the year.

“You guys write about me every day, my mom, my kids, so we have to deal with these types of things so I start to think to myself, ‘Am I really free?’ You know, I can’t really express myself in this game, I can’t really tell you guys how I feel, you guys put pressure on me all the time. Am I really free?”

Alright not so bad, it’s just the media. But Brown was only warming up.

Let’s talk training camp shall we?

There was no Bell which was drama in itself, but there was certainly Antonio Brown. He arrived to camp in a helicopter in an attempt to show his commitment to the team and get to camp on time. His words, not mine.

While Bell was caught on tape at a strip club while he could have been at training camp, Brown mysteriously disappeared from Saint Vincent for a week. Mike Tomlin claimed he had been sent to Pittsburgh for a medical test but Brown was filmed at a pool in Miami.

Brown returned eventually, he had some unfinished business. He threatened ESPN’s Jesse Washington and called Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette a racist.

We press on…

Week 1, it’s Le’Veon Bell’s turn.

He doesn’t show up after what seemed like a promise to his teammates that he would be there for the start of the season based on the Steelers offensive line’s reaction to his absence. Ramon Foster and Maurkice Pouncey renounced him for the move after supporting his decision to stay away from the team just days earlier.

The Steelers hadn’t played a game to this point.

When they do, they blow a 21-7 lead and tie the Cleveland Browns. After the game, Bell tweets out the “monacle emoji” in a tweet about the final score, suggesting maybe the Steelers could have used his services.

AB’s turn!

Week 2, the Steelers get run over by the Kansas City Chiefs, Brown is caught demonstratively arguing with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and wide receivers coach Darryl Drake.  He then takes to social media a day later responding to a former Steelers employee Ryan Scarpino on Twitter who said he wouldn’t be the same without Ben Roethlisberger by saying, “trade me let’s find out.”

Prophetic I guess.

He also didn’t show up to the Steelers headquarters that Monday. His first AWOL of the year.

Bell’s turn!

He surfaces on the internet looking…rather pudgy…on a jet ski in Miami and videos surface of him rapping on-stage as well. The Sunday before a Week 3 Monday night matchup against the Bucs, we find out the Steelers are reportedly open to trading him.

Shortly after, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that Bell planned to report to the team during the Week 7 bye but no one from the team had talked to him to confirm.

But don’t forget about AB!

TMZ reported that a man is suing AB for throwing furniture out his apartment window, almost killing a 22 month old toddler. Brown refused to pay for damages and a reported $80,000 and a gun was stolen from him. 

Meanwhile, Bell does not show up during the bye week as reported. But, the Monday after Week 9 he tweets “fairwell Miami” and is spotted a day later playing basketball at LA Fitness on McKnight Rd.

Still no sign of him at the Steelers facility.

Week 10, Bell decides to have even more fun with the situation and sends out some upside down tweets about his situation. Yes, literally upside down.

The deadline for him to report to the team for the season comes and goes and after all the excitement, Bell skips out on 2018 altogether.

Breathe for a second…the Bell saga is over.

As Bell taps out, Brown takes over the drama reins.

Before a Thursday night game against Carolina, Brown is caught going over 100 mph on McKnight Rd.

Things are quiet with Brown until the now infamous Week 17.

Brown reportedly gets upset with Ben Roethlisberger, throws a football at him and leaves practice. He then goes AWOL for the week, not talking to anyone from the team.  According to Mike Tomlin, he had his agent Drew Rosenhaus contact Tomlin Sunday morning saying he is ready to play and Tomlin tells him he won’t participate.

Brown then shut down all communication with the team, flirted with other teams by photoshopping himself in other uniforms, finally met with Art Rooney II and demanded a trade.

This past Sunday it all mercifully came to an end when the deal was struck to make him an Oakland Raider, only after he reportedly denied a deal to the Buffalo Bills.

Now here we stand with Bell a free agent to be signed any day now and Brown a Raider. A 10 month period, really it was longer than that with these two, is finally over.

If you consumed this team regularly, you were pummeled by event after event that didn’t have to do directly with anything on the field.

For me, the fact that we can get back to actually following a Steelers team for its performance on a field will be refreshing.

We’ve lived the drama for so long; the fresh air left after it leaves the organization is almost foreign.

The days of the Steelers being plastered all over national television for their turmoil are almost over.

Keep in mind, there’s always room for some drama with this franchise…*cough cough Ben cough cough*.

And honestly, they may not be as good as they were with Bell and Brown. They may not go 13-3 like they did in 2017 with both of them on the field. Who knows, they may not win the AFC North for the second consecutive year and miss the playoffs again.

But at this point, I’ll take *just* the losing on the field over the drama. Last year there was way too much of both.

If you see Bell and/or Brown elsewhere in 2019, always remember what came with them in 2018.

For me, the fact that these two are out of the organization and off to create headlines somewhere else makes this team so much easier to root for.

It’s been a nightmare.

We’re finally starting to wake up.  

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