Antonio Brown's beef with Ben Roethlisberger was heated, sudden, and so avoidable

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10:28   |   Apr 11, 2019


Antonio Brown's beef with Ben Roethlisberger was heated, sudden, and so avoidable
Antonio Brown's beef with Ben Roethlisberger was heated, sudden, and so avoidable thumb Antonio Brown's beef with Ben Roethlisberger was heated, sudden, and so avoidable thumb Antonio Brown's beef with Ben Roethlisberger was heated, sudden, and so avoidable thumb


  • - Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger made
  • beautiful magic together as the league's most dynamic aerial
  • connection for upwards of a half decade.
  • Then all of the sudden the two Canton bound superstars
  • just couldn't play nice.
  • This is the inexplicably stupid history of their beef.
  • (playful music)
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger
  • 11th over all in 2004 and he provided immediate dividends,
  • taking over as starting quarterback in week three
  • of his rookie season and setting an NFL record by winning
  • each of his first 14 career starts and guiding his squad
  • to the AFC championship game.
  • He won Super Bowl extra large for an encore
  • becoming the only quarterback to ever hoist
  • the Lombardi Trophy before blowing out 24 candles.
  • In the ensuing years he'd break every meaningful franchise
  • passing record, get a nine figure contract extension,
  • and win another Super Bowl in February 2009.
  • He was an established, bona fide super star
  • going into his seventh season in 2010
  • when the Steelers used a sixth round pick on a little known
  • wide receiver out of Central Michigan named Antonio Brown.
  • By year two he burst on the scene,
  • teaming up with Mike Wallace to form one of the leagues
  • top receiving duos, leading to a lucrative five year
  • extension after just his second season.
  • Once Wallace left for Miami in 2013,
  • Brown and Ben set fire to the entire NFL
  • and by the time the dust settled on a 2016 season,
  • Brown had posted the most prolific four year
  • receiving stretch in the history of the game.
  • That led to another big money extension
  • ahead of the 2017 season which definitely seemed
  • to cement his status as a Steeler for life.
  • The first few games that year were business as usual
  • but then came a week four trip to Baltimore
  • when Brown broke wide open for what would've been
  • a huge third down play only for
  • Big Ben to never even look his way.
  • Brown threw a temper tantrum taking his frustration
  • out on this poor cooler.
  • Then a couple days later when Ben was making his
  • weekly radio appearance he threw his wideout under the bus
  • for creating a needless distraction, explaining that,
  • "It's not like I intentionally didn't throw
  • "it to him, I was doing what my reads tell me to do.
  • "I don't even want to say I made a mistake
  • "because I was reading the side I was supposed to read.
  • "It's just unfortunate that it happened
  • "and it's unfortunate that he acted and reacted that way."
  • You see over the years Roethlisberger has consistently
  • gone on the radio and aired team dirty laundry
  • on a public platform and it's pissed off
  • a whole bunch of his wideouts.
  • After Emmanuel Sanders left Pittsburgh
  • to sign with the Broncos he went out of his way
  • to note how much better of a leader Peyton Manning was
  • than Ben Roethlisberger and noted his discussions
  • with Wallace on the topic of Ben
  • calling teammates out on the radio.
  • - I said if Ben called me out on a radio show,
  • the next day I would literally walk up to him
  • in the locker room and say hey man, like don't do that.
  • Keep my name out of your mouth.
  • - [Narrator] Legendary Steelers wideout Hines Ward
  • also voiced similar beliefs regarding Ben's leadership
  • as it pertained to those radio segments.
  • - [Hines] You know I just think he had to take the
  • initiative to kind of do more as a leader,
  • not just being able to call guys out on his radio show.
  • You don't have to air it out to the public
  • where everyone can hear.
  • - Things were at least fine on the field throughout 2017.
  • Brown notched his fifth consecutive All Pro season
  • as the Steelers won 13 games
  • and repeated as division champs.
  • But 2018 represented a huge fork in the road
  • for the organization with Roethlisberger aging
  • and star running back Le'Veon Bell on sabbatical
  • their window to contend was diminishing.
  • They kicked off the season by failing to defeat
  • a Browns squad who had lost 34 of their previous 35 games.
  • So tension was already high when they welcomed
  • Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs to the big ketchup bottle.
  • Near the goal line, down 12 with just a couple minutes
  • left Brown expected and wanted that touchdown
  • but Ben had other plans and was able to scramble for the TD.
  • Brown was irritated even though his team, ya know, scored.
  • They'd ultimately come up short and about an hour
  • and a half following the game a tweet
  • from a former team PR employee threw gas on the fire
  • when he intimated that Brown's massive success was simply
  • and exclusively due to the presence of the
  • two time Super Bowl champ delivering him all those balls.
  • Brown responded with his first public acknowledgment
  • to the world of his discontent in Western Pennsylvania.
  • He'd delete that tweet, but this is the internet
  • where nothing is forever.
  • No putting that toothpaste back in the tube.
  • Roethlisberger tried to downplay the situation,
  • showering Brown with praise and writing any antics off
  • as a byproduct of his passion and burning desire to win.
  • They looked to put this behind them and the team rebounded
  • with a six game winning streak providing a comfortable
  • cushion in the AFC North leading into
  • a week 12 game in Denver.
  • The Steelers were down a touchdown with just a minute left
  • but this Roethlisberger scramble
  • set them up with a first and goal on the doorstep
  • of the goal line in what should have led
  • to a game tying score.
  • Instead, when Ben looked Brown's way on this third down
  • his toss was plucked out of the air
  • by D lineman Shelby Harris.
  • As he's won't to do, Ben took to the radio
  • to publicly broadcast his blame of the wideout
  • and while he was at it voiced his belief
  • that they should’ve just thrown
  • four straight times to JuJu Smith-Schuster.
  • Brown shrugged it off as constructive criticism
  • that he wasn't taking personally.
  • While Ben spoke to the media in front of his locker
  • and dug in on his stance defending his unorthodox
  • and antagonizing methods.
  • - You have to know how to motivate
  • different guys in different ways and I think that's part
  • of being a leader, being a captain.
  • Sometimes you have to be honest with them
  • and so I think that I've earned the right
  • to be able to do that with as long as I've been here.
  • - Everything was falling apart
  • and it showed on the field.
  • After that painful loss in Denver the Steelers
  • dropped three of their next four,
  • putting themselves on the ropes
  • and their playoff chances, which looked like a certainty
  • a month earlier, on life support.
  • Then all hell broke loose starting with the Wednesday
  • leading up to that final game of the 2018 season.
  • Former NFL wide receiver James Jones reported on NFL network
  • that Roethlisberger would consistently agitate Brown
  • and it reached a boiling point when Brown allegedly
  • ran the wrong route in a walk through practice
  • and Ben demanded they replace him with someone else.
  • An irate Brown then chucked the ball at Roethlisberger
  • before storming out of practice.
  • Hashing things out would also be tricky
  • with the apparent lack of trust
  • and respect Brown had for his signal caller.
  • While head coach Mike Tomlin tried to excuse Brown's
  • absence by making up a phony knee injury,
  • there was no keeping a lid on this brewing circus.
  • Brown would go completely AWOL ahead of their
  • biggest game of the season, skipping the entire week
  • of practice, including a Saturday walkthrough
  • and their team meeting that night.
  • Yet he somehow was under the impression
  • that he'd still take the field and play the next day
  • and when he didn't he left the stadium at halftime.
  • They wound up missing the playoffs
  • despite losing only two of their first 10 games,
  • just the forth time that's been done
  • since the NFL's 1978 expansion to a 16 game regular season.
  • Ben then did his final radio segment of the season
  • and while he said some nice things about his wideout,
  • he also made sure to point out that Brown wasn't returning
  • any of his texts or calls.
  • About seven weeks later things reached DEFCON one.
  • See Ben Roethlisberger had been accused
  • of committing sexual assault both in 2008
  • as well in 2010 and in mid February Brown had liked
  • a pair of tweets that alluded to Ben getting away
  • with these despicable allegations.
  • If there were ever a chance before that these two
  • could bury the hatchet moving forward
  • this was the match that burned any and all remaining bridges
  • between Brown and his quarterback.
  • But Brown didn't stop there.
  • The very next day he took to social media
  • to accuse Ben of having an owners mentality
  • that he can call out anybody he pleases
  • with no means of recourse anyone can take.
  • Their GM Kevin Colbert was totally cool with it too,
  • even enabling that dynamic and alluded to Ben's 52 teammates
  • as kids which only served to underscore
  • and validate Brown's point.
  • Running back Le'Veon Bell fresh off signing a long sought
  • multi-year deal with the Jets explained that doing things
  • Ben's way was tough and that management allowed him
  • to become larger than the team.
  • The final straw came with the March 1st airing
  • of an episode of The Shop, a talk show produced
  • by LeBron James in which Brown executed
  • a rapid fire verbal assault on Ben.
  • - And all year the dude call me out, we lose a game
  • he like yeah AB shoulda ran a better route.
  • - Why would Ben do that?
  • - The type of guy he is.
  • He feel like he the owner.
  • Bro you threw this shit to the D-line.
  • How the (bleep) I'm gonna run the route wrong.
  • (laughing)
  • Give me a better ball.
  • - [Narrator] The very next day an interview with ESPN's
  • Jeff Darlington aired in which he went in some more
  • on Ben and their relationship.
  • - I would’ve liked for me and Ben able to be cool,
  • you know what I mean?
  • I thought we was cool but when I think,
  • I been in his house one time,
  • he been in my house one time.
  • You know what I mean?
  • We don't workout in the off season.
  • It's like yo, we really wanna win.
  • You think that's winning?
  • That's not winning.
  • That's not a winning culture.
  • - [Narrator] For Roethlisberger, the man who was never
  • bashful about speaking his mind and sparking controversy
  • on the radio, had pretty much gone totally silent
  • with nothing left to do but sit
  • and wait for the end to come.
  • And he didn't have to wait long.
  • A week later Brown's wish for a divorce
  • from Ben and the Steelers was granted
  • when they flipped him to the Raiders.
  • Problems that could've seemingly been hashed out
  • behind closed doors were instead
  • exacerbated when taken public.
  • Ben perceived his star wide receiver to be too
  • hot tempered, erratic and sloppy.
  • Brown thought the two rings won by his star quarterback
  • somehow managed to make his head even bigger
  • and felt slighted by a lack of respect
  • from his QB, while resenting the deference
  • the organization showed to Ben.
  • Things quickly spiraled out of control
  • when the two were forced to coexist as teammates.
  • Now that's ancient history.
  • Brown hasn't let his exit from Pittsburgh
  • diminish any hard feelings, whether toward his old
  • quarterback, GM or even fellow wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster.
  • Anyway, click here for more QB, wide receiver beef
  • and while you're at it, check out the entire menu
  • of exquisitely procured beef.
  • (playful music)

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For more Pennsylvania-based quarterback-wide receiver beef, check out the episode starring Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens /watch?v=82xjbERv9TQ

Things between Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger seemed fine.

They had a connection envied by the rest of the league as Brown had the best four-year stretch by a wide receiver in the history of the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers were rolling as a result and always felt like a threat in the AFC, especially when considering Roethlisberger already having a pair of Super Bowl victories to his name.

But early in 2017, the cracks began to show. After the quarterback failed to notice a wide-open Brown during a game against the Ravens, the receiver took his frustrations out on a water cooler. Instead of keeping things behind closed doors, Roethlisberger expressed his thoughts about the sideline outburst on the radio for all to hear. This would become a theme in their beef, as Pittsburgh’s signal-caller had used the tactic with other wide receivers, and would continue to voice his Brown-related opinions on 93.7 The Fan.

It would become apparent that there weren’t many of his teammates that approved of this tactic, but the Steelers coaches and front office didn’t seem to mind. That only exacerbated the issues, and while Big Ben took to the radio, Brown took to Twitter to make himself known. With so much being aired out in the open, the speculation from the media grew and the players were peppered with questions about their relationship.

They did their best to play nice, but by the end of 2018, it had snowballed into something that couldn’t be hidden. Brown was benched for their final game of the season after a spat at practice. It went off the rails from there in a way that all but guarantees we haven’t heard the end of it.

Written and produced by Alex Rubenstein
Shot by Jiazhen Zhang
Edited by Jiazhen Zhang and Mike Das

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