With the Pittsburgh Steelers-Antonio Brown saga showing no signs of abating anytime soon, Mike Carlson joined Thursday's OTB AM to discuss the latest story gripping the NFL.
"It is a soap opera - the Kardashians is a pretty good [comparison] - it's like 'half football and half circus'," Carlson told Ger. "What it is, is Antonio Brown got into a fight with Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback, during the week before the final game against Cincinnati and wound up throwing a ball either at him or at his feet because he said that Roethlisberger couldn't get the ball to him and kept throwing balls at his feet.
"And, they got 'into it' and he stormed off and didn't go to practice the next couple of days, didn't go to team meetings on Saturday, and showed up for the game as if he were going to play.
"Mike Tomlin didn't let him play, Pittsburgh won the game anyway so in the end, that was inconsequential - it was a very close game with a bad Cincinnati team. They didn't get into the play-offs and what you're getting now is a combination of the Steelers' indiscipline and Mike Tomlin known as a, sort of, quote unquote 'players' coach', who lets the guys go, there. They're tough team, that's kind of free-wheeling.
"Antonio Brown's ego, after this incident, many people - including his ex-teammate Ryan Clarke - who's now a commentator, were talking about various incidents over the years where he puts himself ahead of the team and then, of course, this weird situation where coming into the season, Pittsburgh were a Super Bowl favourite in a lot of people's minds, including my own, because they had the 'Killer Bs'; Ben Rothlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell - the running back.
"And, of course, Bell never played for them. They couldn't get a contract done with him - he never stepped on to the field. Brown complained and it seems that the thing that set it all off was that the players voted, the team's Most Valuable Player and gave it to JuJu Smith-Schuster, who's the other receiver and not to Antonio Brown. And, I think that's why he was feeling particularly sensitive.
"Now Pittsburgh is left with a huge problem because he makes so much money that any team in the league would love to have him and his price is not unreasonable in contract terms but if Pittsburgh trade him or release him - their salary cap will take a hit of something like $26 million which is almost 15% of the cap. So, they can't really afford to get rid of him and they have to therefor come to some sort of accommodation to get him to play.
"He's a wonderful receiver - easily one of the five best in the league," he added.