Earlier this week, Antonio Brown sent out a tweet in response to a message by a former Steelers PR staffer saying that Brown was lucky he was drafted by a team with Ben Roethlisberger. As we later found out, he also didn’t report to work that same day he was sending that response.
You may wonder why Antonio Brown would even bother getting upset about such nonsense. Well, it’s probably because it touched a nerve of vulnerability–Antonio Brown’s production has been tied to Big Ben more than any other receiver to a quarterback.
Now, here’s what I am not saying. I’m not saying that Antonio Brown would be just another receiver without Ben. He’s talented and so quick and such a great route runner that he could excel elsewhere. I think there’s just as much of a reasonable argument that Ben has benefitted by having great skill position players like Brown around him as he gets to his late 30’s. Brown could go to lots of teams with decent quarterbacks and make them better on the field.
But Brown’s salty about it because it hasn’t happened yet. Trash talk has its greatest impact when there’s a small hint of twisted truth to it.
In fact, in a somewhat amazing stat, all 63 of Brown’s career touchdown catches (regular season and postseason) have been thrown by Roethlisberger, even though there have been over a half-season of other quarterbacks starting games in the last eight years in Pittsburgh. Even Marvin Harrison, who is as much tied to one great quarterback as any great receiver, caught 8 touchdown passes in a season where Jim Harbaugh, Paul Justin, and Kerwin Bell threw them.
In five games where Big Ben didn’t play in the last three years and Brown did, he averaged 4.8 catches, 68 yards, and 0 touchdowns. In the games with Ben, he’s at an incredible 8 catches, 108 yards, and 0.8 TDs per game.
We know star wide receivers can be divas and have egos. Brown is in his feelings about being questioned because of Big Ben, but the truth is, all that matters is that they need each other, now, to stop caring about the outside noise.