PITTSBURGH (AP) — Antonio Brown's laundry list of issues with the Pittsburgh Steelers appears to include a problem with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's leadership style and how head coach Mike Tomlin treated the Pro Bowl wide receiver during the regular-season finale against Cincinnati.
Brown, who has requested a trade, took to Twitter on Saturday to vent in what amounted to his first expanded public comments since a falling out with the organization that has left his future with the club very much in doubt.
Asked by a Twitter user about the root of his conflict with Roethlisberger, Brown responded "No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect! He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can't say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It's a dirty game within a game. #truth."
Roethlisberger does not hesitate to take teammates to task publicly, a right the two-time Super Bowl winner says he has earned. While rarely overtly critical of Brown this season, Roethlisberger on one occasion declined to name Brown specifically when asked about the benefits of having a No. 1 receiver, instead naming just about every receiver on the roster.
Brown also called out Tomlin for the way he handled Brown during the course of the final week of the regular season. The team sent Brown home two days before the game and ordered him to get some rest and have his knee examined. Tomlin said afterward Brown did not have the exam and did not communicate with the team until early on the morning of the day of the game when his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, contacted Tomlin and said Brown would be available to play.
Brown arrived at the stadium in time but did not dress after the team made him inactive. He watched the first half from the sideline but was not around postgame after Pittsburgh won 16-13. The victory, however, did not help the Steelers extend their season. They missed the playoffs after finishing 9-6-1.
"After the coach tell the team I quit while nursing some bumps then invite me to watch the show with same guys thinking I quit," Brown tweeted . "I can not stand with that! I'm the bad guy doe (sic) we miss post season think about it."
Brown is expected to meet with Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II — who has declined to disparage Brown despite futile attempts to communicate with the nine-year pro — in coming days. Any such sit-down — if it even happens — appears to offer no chance at reconciling.
Brown tweeted he "Loves Steelers Nation everything to my heart" but said "no more" when asked any comeback might be in the offing.