The Pittsburgh Steelers entered Week 17 needing to win and get help in order to make the playoffs. But even that dire situation didn't stop the team from reportedly benching star wide receiver Antonio Brown after an eventful week leading up to the game.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Brown missed the season-ending game against the Cincinnati Bengals not because of a knee injury but because an angry Brown reportedly "threw a football in anger at one of his teammates, several sources said."
The report does not indicate with which teammate Brown had the heated dispute.
The incident happened during the Steelers' Wednesday walk-through prior to their practice that day. Brown did not practice the rest of the week from that point on, which was Brown’s — not the coaches' — decision, according to the story.
This is a shocking development for a player who is in the midst of a four-year, $68 million deal. Brown previously has been lauded for his toughness. He was the Steelers' second-leading receiver with 104 catches and second in yards with 1,297, but Brown's 15 touchdowns led the team despite missing the finale.
Despite missing the Steelers' Saturday walk-through as well, Brown reportedly expected to play in Sunday's game against the Bengals. He was listed as questionable with a knee injury and was said to be ruled out just prior to the game after testing his health. But it sounds now as if that story was fabricated (or exaggerated) following the midweek drama.
This story comes almost a year after Le'Veon Bell reportedly showed up late to the team's eventual playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and is just the latest chapter in the Steelers' drama-filled past few seasons.