Friday, October 07, 2016

When it really matters for Steelers, will Antonio Brown keep on dancin'?

By Mark Madden
October 7, 2016
Image result for antonio Brown 2016 september touchdown
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Is the media going overboard by constantly discussing Antonio Brown’s penchant for tacking a 15-yard penalty onto his touchdowns?
Yes. But that won’t stop us.
It’s difficult to ignore the situation when:
-- Brown did it for the second time this season just this past Sunday.
-- Coach Mike Tomlin discussed it at his weekly dissemination of empty platitudes and non-information, wishing the NFL would define what Brown can and can’t do by way of celebration while adding that he won’t discuss the issue with Brown. Tomlin won’t lecture Brown, but wishes the league would. What a disciplinarian.
-- NFL Senior VP of Officiating Dean Blandino responded to Tomlin’s request by defining the parameters of post-TD glee, with an accompanying video to boot. Anything simulating sex and/or violence is out, so nobody will lip-sync Kiss’ “Love Gun” anytime soon.
Or perhaps somebody will.
Brown was counseled by two veteran teammates regarding the notion of keeping the laundry in the refs’ pockets. Brown’s attitude during said conversation lingered somewhere between disinterested and comatose.
The Steelers are 5-1 when Brown takes a penalty via celebration. The one defeat, a 2014 home loss to Tampa Bay, was not directly impacted by the infraction.
But would Brown mute his histrionics, say, after scoring a touchdown that puts the Steelers ahead by a point in the fourth quarter of a playoff game? Or would Brown indulge his massive ego and give away 15 yards at a crucial time?
Bet the latter. Immaturity doesn’t pick its spots.
I don’t find Brown’s absurd pelvic thrusting offensive, nor do I think it merits being penalized. But the NFL does.
Brown is likely beyond embarrassment, as he so often shows.
But Jim Brown, to ESPN in 2006, criticized modern black athletes for “buffoonery. … The rolling of the eyes, the dancing and all the … stereotypical racial disgraces. You wonder how these individuals can be so stupid not to understand how the general public looks at them.”
If you study history, you don't want to emulate the things that were degrading and humiliating. … Now, guys are voluntarily playing the ‘yassa, boss’ slave. That's embarrassing to me. To think in this day in age, these young men would be out there shaking their butts and not knowing much of anything else. Not understanding the dignity of a man and how to play a game and play it hard and let that speak for itself.”
Jim Brown is the greatest football player ever, and a pioneer when it comes to African-American athletes demanding respect within the context of big-time sports. His opinion matters.
Antonio Brown is the best wide receiver in football, and in Steelers’ history. He’s headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But as a man, he’s no Colin Kaepernick.
So, the NFL has clarified: Antonio Brown’s gyrations are against the rules. Will he keep doing it, and how will Tomlin and the Steelers handle it if (when) he does?
For the Steelers, this debate is about 15 yards. Do they want to keep giving away that chunk of turf on the opposition’s next possession? Does no one among the owners, executives, coaches and players have the guts to tell attention junkie Brown, in no uncertain terms, to knock it off?
The answer to that question says a lot about the Steelers, and about the state of the NFL in general.
You can say that 15 yards doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t.
Until it does.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).

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