It’s no accident that Antonio Brown has gone from a 6th round draft pick to being the best wide receiver in the NFL. It’s also no accident that Brown celebrated his brand new contract by hitting the gym, because that is what he is all about, putting in the work necessary to be the very best. Antonio Brown arrived in Pittsburgh in 2010 with fellow rookie Emanuel Sanders, a third round pick, to make up two thirds of the “Young Money” crew, along with starter Mike Wallace. From day one, Brown’s work ethic and his desire to be the best have stood out. When Mike Tomlin issued his “two dogs, one bone” proclamation, Brown stepped up and owned that bone, and he continues to raise the bar of his own excellence.
Considered the best wide receiver in the game over the last few years, just how good has Antonio Brown been? Since 2013, Brown has accomplished what no other receiver in history ever has, racking up 481 receptions for 6,315 yards and 43 touchdowns. That’s an average of 120 catches, 1,578 yards, and 10 touchdowns per season for the last four years. Most receivers would love to have one season in their careers with those stats, and that is what Brown has averaged per season over the last four seasons. Some have said that it should be easy to put up those numbers with all of the talent that the Steelers have at the receiver position. That’s what makes his 2016 season so impressive.
With no Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant, or a healthy Sammie Coates at any point after the Jets game, to help him out, Brown was Ben Roethlisberger’s only proven target left. Still nobody could stop him. Despite all the double coverages he faced, sometimes even triple coverage, Brown still hauled in 106 receptions for 1,284 yards. Like Hines Ward, Brown loves the challenges that come from playing the game he loves, and all the greatness that we see on the field is the payoff from the work he puts in off of it.
Brown is no diva or locker room cancer:
Loved by his coaches, teammates, and the recently deceased Dan Rooney, Antonio Brown has a love for the game that shows in his eternal smile. He is also about as sincere as they come. There is nothing pretentious about Brown. When he says he’s Chest Up, Eyes Up, Prayed Up (CUEUPU), he means it. There is nothing orchestrated, when it comes to the joy he displays following a touchdown or a big win. What we are seeing is a man celebrating a GAME with a youthful exuberance, who is grateful for the opportunity to be able to play the game. What a sad statement it is, that in today’s world, there are people who want a player gone, who shows that much joy and wants to share it with the fans. Perhaps it’s those people who need to re-evaluate their priorities.
With the imminent return of Martavis Bryant, Antonio Brown should once again have a lot more room on the field to work his magic. Even now, Antonio Brown is working harder than ever to to exceed his own personal expectations in order to help get the Steelers to the Super Bowl. A championship is the one thing that alludes Antonio Brown, and it’s part of what drives him to those late night workouts. This year he has a little extra motivation, because on top of his own drive and determination, he wants to win it all for the angel on his shoulder, Dan Rooney.