Over the last couple of weeks we have all played witness to the culmination of a “relationship” that has been rocky at best for most of 4 years. The relationship began in the 2014 draft when The steelers chose Martavis Bryant out of Clemson in the 4th round at 118 he had been projected to go as high as the 2nd round but due to some off field issues other teams passed on him. The relationship got off to a slow start with Bryant having a inconsistent training camp and then an injury in game 4 of the preseason but Coach Tomlin and the Steelers saw enough that they kept him around and put him on the IR and challenged him to EARN his spot on the team, which he did in week 7 after showing out on the scout team MB would score a TD on his first reception for 35 yards in his first game against the Texans and it wouldn’t be his last as he would finish his rookie season with a total of 26 catches, 549 receiving yards, and eight touchdown receptions in ten games and three starts. Bryant’s 21.1 yards per reception ranked No. 1 among NFL wide receivers in 2014.
Then came the off season and some more personal troubles which landed him on suspension for the first 4 games of the season he was due to return in week 5 but again a minor injury delayed him another week And again The Steelers took it in stride and welcomed him back in week 6 and it was like the relationship was back on good ground as he caught 6 passes for 137 yards and 2 scores one of them was an 88 yard catch and run and this wasn’t even a start. He finished the 2015 campaign paying in 11 games, 50 receptions, for 765 yrds. and 6 TD’s one of which was a pass that Big Ben threw to him in the corner and he caught on the back of his leg maintaining control while doing a flip in a playoff game against the Bengals . Yep the relationship was looking up.
Then came another offseason and more trouble this time it cost him and the Steelers his spectacular speed and talent for the whole 2016 Season and while The Steelers made it all the way to the AFC championship game I can’t help but wonder how his deep threat ability could’ve helped to make it through that game and the next (but I digress).
And that brings us to another offseason how would it work out? Martavis as most of us had hoped seems to have learned a lesson and was conditionally reinstated on April 25, 2017 with the Steelers still standing by his side he was back home but again there was a whole season he’d missed and a new kid in town so again there was a challenge for him to face and he would have to show he could EARN his spot and he did, but the Steelers offense hasn’t quiet clicked the way it expected to a lot of it due to what I call unneeded distractions (another story for another time) but even with The Steelers not scoring at the pace they ( or I ) thought they would they still find themselves sitting in first place in the AFC north but the catches and the TD’s haven’t been there as expected and that brings us to the first signs of trouble in the relationship in ’17 but it was a different kind of trouble than before, this was whispers from others into the ears of Bryant “why aren’t you getting the ball more” , “why is JuJu getting all the looks” and that in week 6 spilled over onto social media and the lamestream media that Martavis wasn’t happy with the relationship anymore. WHAT??? The team that stood beside you through two suspensions and believed in you enough to keep you around. And the those rumors were squashed…. as Bengals week began there was talk of a more complimentary game plan for Bryant and then came game day and as sometimes things happen it did this Sunday as Martavis only had one catch for 3 yards and another catch was just out of reach of Bryant which possibly would’ve went for 6, after the game Bryant took to social media again showing his displeasure and even arguing with others on there about how much better he was than Smith-Schuster which he later deleted and then spoke of how JuJu was the future of the team and he just wanted what was his. He also told a reporter from ESPN that he’d like to be traded if he didn’t get a more active workload. Now talking to his teammates such as Big Ben, Ben Stated they don’t see this side of Bryant at practice or in the games which leads me to believe that again he’s listening to the whispers of those around him, his GF and Agent (should be soon to be Ex-Agent), but again I digress.
Coach Tomlin said he would address the social media and media outburst of Bryant and he did in the week leading up to the week 8 matchup against Detroit Tomlin gave Bryant the proverbial pillow and blanket and sent him to the couch, he demoted him to the practice squad and and told him and the rest of the world that he WOULD NOT BE TRADED, all this with a Smith-Schuster who was at the time questionable for the week 8 matchup, the Steelers would go on to beat the lions with JuJu really showing up (guess he wasn’t that questionable) at the time he was demoted he was tied with JuJu for 2nd on the team for targets behind the Steelers #1 receiver AB so him looking for greener pastures is even more confusing, he says he worked hard to get back ( which I have no doubt he did) then why would you want to look for another team when you’re on a contender? If your a hard worker then keep working the catches and TD’s will come, Bryant is not as I stated above the #1 receiver on the Steelers roster Brown is and will continue to be. Another great player said it best when Deion “Prime Time ” Sanders said ” Bryant needs to realize he’s an accessory, he’s not the suit, Antonio Brown is the suit MB is the tie that enhances the suit. Hush your mouth and continue to play hard and prayerfully you’ll go get your money.”
In conclusion I will say this if you want to show your true value if you, if you want to continue to make money for your family ( which is one of the things he stated in the ESPN article) and whether you want to be a Steeler long term or just till 1. Your contract is up after 18′ or 2. They trade you in the offseason the best advice I can give you is to fix this relationship NOW or no team will want a player who is gonna maybe be on the field due to personal issues or complain and be ready to jump ship at the first signs of a problem, if you want to get paid when it comes time to sign your next contract THIS relationship has to be fixed.
How do you “Fix it” show up everyday and bust your butt, quit listening to “bad advice”, if you have a problem go to the coach and management and finally and above all else keep the crap off social media and go play ball like the player you came in the league as find that hunger and be the best route runner you can be, don’t give up running on the deep ball, and don’t let the lack of targets in the 1st or 2nd qtr dictate how you play the 3rd and the 4th …… in other words don’t give up on a team that didn’t give up on YOU.