Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin still hasn't spoken to Antonio Brown
The Steelers coach wouldn't directly say that the receiver bailed on teammates, but was clearly disturbed by the lack of communication with Brown in the days leading up to the Week 17 tilt and in the aftermath of Pittsburgh being eliminated from playoff contention.
"When we're talking about the darkest hour, we're talking about playing to win a game and needing other dominoes to fall for us to be in the tournament and the guy not communicating -- that is a real element of discussion, certainly," he said.
Tomlin was asked if Brown quit on his teammates.
"You can describe it in whatever ways you want to describe it," he responded.
"There was a lack of communication there that can lead to thoughts and things in that nature that can go many directions. Bottom line is we're playing a significant game and he didn't do a good enough job of communicating or being available in the hours leading up to that performance, so we needed to make decisions pertinent to getting prepared to play in that performance. I've been really clear about outlining what transpired, the level of communication and things of that nature so obviously there's some things within that you can infer, certainly."
Tomlin said he could not reach of Brown on Friday night, and when the receiver didn't show up for a walkthrough on Saturday morning, the team decided to shut him down for the game.
Brown's agent Drew Rosenhaus called Tomlin on Sunday morning to relay that A.B. could play, but Tomlin said that was not how decisions were made.
Tomlin said he spoke with Brown prior to the game and discussed the receiver being inactive. The coach added he heard Brown left the stadium at halftime but couldn't confirm because he wasn't sure.
The Steelers coach characterized the entire situation as "lack of communication."
Tomlin wouldn't get into specifics about how he plans to deal with Brown's situation, noting any discipline would be handled "in-house." The coach noted that because the Steelers did not make the playoffs there was less urgency to codify the situation.
"I haven't spoken to him since that meeting I had with him prior to the game at the stadium on Sunday," Tomlin said. "Obviously, I'm going to address it; we're going to address him and the circumstance. To be quite honest with you, we're going to information gather and use all the time at our disposal and wish to do so. I was hopeful that time would be more of an essence in terms of him and his circumstances. I was hopeful that we would be working this week but we're not so because we're not we're going to information gather and deal with it. And like we do in all circumstances, we're going to deal with it appropriately. We're going to deal with it in-house and I'm sure you'll hear about the intimate details. But because we're not playing a game this week, it hasn't been addressed to this point."
While Brown hasn't spoken to the Steelers since before Sunday's game, the Pro Bowl receiver posted a message on social media during Tomlin's press conference Wednesday.
Tomlin saidt he's "not going to speculate on trades" and that Brown hasn't formally requested to be shipped out of Pittsburgh.
"Like I said last week, the circumstances being what they were and the amount of things that we were going through, it wasn't a lot of communication there. Obviously, we take his lack of communication, his lack of presence, particularly on Saturday prior to the game to be something that's very significant and will be handled appropriately so. I'm not going to speculate on trades and things of that nature. We haven't formally received a request in that regard, so I'm not going to speculate in terms of where the discipline might go and things of that nature. Just know that it is going to be addressed and will be addressed and needs to be addressed for obvious reasons."
When asked if there is a point where the distractions outweigh the talent, Tomlin responded: "certainly."
Things in Pittsburgh seem to get worse by the day.