Is Antonio Brown a hero to a team or a villain for teams to be wary of?
No, I'm not trying to besmirch anybody's character, but let's look at the record. The kid came into Steeler Nation as a low draft pick, he was criticized for being too small, and then he blew up to become arguably the best wide receiver in the league. He was a hard worker. he was cool and calm and he beat you with his actions and heroics on the field.
And then he got a big head. Something went villainously wrong. Brown became a toxin in the Steelers locker room, talking smack, making waves, and making the team uncomfortable. Brown and Pittsburgh Hero Roethlisberger ended up on opposite sides of issues wherein AB made himself out to be the villain. In Steeler Nation, it doesn't bode well for you to go against Roethlisberger. but AB had a big head; acted as if he was above the law. Brown quarreled about his salary and whether it reflected the enormous talent he brought to the team.
Was any of this helpful to the Steelers? No.
Now, to be fair, the legendary Rooney family-owned Steelers have never been criticized for over-paying their players. The work ethic of the Steelers reflects the work ethic of a proud blue-collar, working-class town - a city built on the backs of American laborers, steelworkers, miners, and the like; men and women and their families who pounded out a subsistence one day after the other, after the next.
Pittsburgh was never a glitzy town. Yet, they built a dynasty on hard work and an attitude of never giving up while giving all you had.
You were not supposed to whine about your salary. But Brown did. And then Brown whined and moaned about not being appreciated enough in Pittsburgh and so he managed to wiggle his way out of Steeler Nation - good riddance - and land in Oak-Town, another franchise that honors and respects hard work. The Raiders are also a team that prides itself on toughness and teamwork, not in shining stars that save the day.
What's a diva like AB to do in a place like that?
And so, it began again: whining, arguing, recording private conversations, then posting them for the world to hear and read. Shame on you, Mr. Brown.
Is Brown a great talent? Without a doubt. Is he the only great talent? No. It must be hard, playing like a heroic superstar on the big stage, in front of millions of fans watching you live and on their screens, and not being lauded as the superhero you think you are. I mean, neither Oakland nor Pittsburgh was shining their AB Bat-signal in the skies above their city. They were laying medals around his neck on a daily. But there was appreciation! Fans loved you, Mr. Brown. You were the hero of young children! Why was that not enough for you!?
And now, after a publicized argument with the GM of the team who just agreed to pay you 30 MILLION DOLLARS TO PLAY FOOTBALL (this isn't brain surgery, Sir, this is running and catching a ball!), after secretly and underhandedly recording a private call with a hugely respected coach who believes in you, then publicizing that same recording for more millions of people; after requesting release from Oakland and a fresh start, you sign with the Evil Empire!
Let me ask you, Mr. Brown, does this look like heroic behavior? Or is this villainous treachery?
Suffice it to say that Antonio Brown seems to be leaving a wake in his path, and it's littered with the debris of broken bridges.
Hero or villain? Your call.