Both the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers experienced some serious turnover heading into the 2019 NFL season thanks to the fallout between Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger.
There has been no shortage of headlines surrounding Brown’s unceremonious departure from Pittsburgh. It is easy to forget that the events were triggered by Roethlisberger’s criticisms amidst their struggles in the 2018 campaign.
His comments served as the boiling point between the two as it ultimately led to the Steelers obliging Brown’s wishes to be traded in the offseason. It seems hindsight has now provided him with much more clarity on the matter.
Roethlisberger said during an appearance on Sunday Night Football on NBC that he regrets the comments he made because it led to him losing both his favorite wide receiver and a friend:
“I wish I wouldn’t have done it,” Roethlisberger told NBC Sports’ Michele Tafoya.
“Because we saw what happened, and obviously, it ruined a friendship. I just got caught up in the heat of the battle.”
Brown was not the only wide receiver Roethlisberger had criticized at the time. He also called out James Washington in his frustrations, however, the young wideout made it clear that he had no problem with being asked to step his game up. Even Roethlisberger was unsure why his comments had the opposite effect on Washington.
“You’ll have to ask him,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m not sure.”
Of course, there is a tremendous difference between calling out a seven-time Pro Bowler and an unproven, second-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft. It is clear that Brown understood this difference and was not happy about Roethlisberger seemingly shifting the blame for their struggles on offense at the time.
Those in and around Pittsburgh backed up his right to hold teammates accountable for their shortcomings given his tenure as the franchise quarterback. As a result, the damage had already been done for Brown and it was not long before he officially cut all ties with the Steelers.
While Roethlisberger is regretful of the strain his comments had on their relationship, Brown has since made it clear that there is no love lost between him and his former team. Both will now be tasked with serving as a stabilizing factor on their teams for a potential resurgence in 2019.
It is safe to say that Brown has not exactly made the most of his fresh start in Oakland after missing time with frostbitten feet and the multiple helmet grievances. Fortunately, it will not be long before he has a chance to remind the league of why is still considered to be one of the NFL’s elite pass-catchers.
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