On Feb. 12, 2020, following a tumultuous 52 weeks that included intense criticism of his former team, Brown issued a public apology to Ben Roethlisberger, his quarterback during his nine-year run in Pittsburgh.
View this post on Instagram
Mostly you a little bit of me ! Yee yee !! I never realized how good I had it, got caught up in my emotion with everyone coming after me I really apologize for my actions sincerely man ! It’s never been another connection like what we done in the past decade. I appreciate you. Sincerely AB
Brown, whose off-field issues resulted in him playing in just one game last season, has issued several public apologies over the past two weeks. Last Wednesday, Brown apologized to Roethlisberger as well as the entire Steelers' organization.
"These guys gave me an opportunity when I was 21 years old, and I'm forever grateful for those guys," said Brown, who is second in franchise history in career catches, yards and touchdowns. "Got the opportunity to not only play for those guys, but to be in so many amazing moments. (We've) been through so much.
"I'm forever grateful and indebted to the Steelers' organization. Mr. Rooney, Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, Ben Roethlisberger. I started my career with those guys. A lot of beautiful moments, lot of positive things, so it's not all bad. I just think, from an emotional standpoint, when stuff got bad, it just seemed bad. We had a lot more good moments than bad."
During the interview, Brown specifically talked about his previous relationship with Roethlisberger, who threw him 74 of his first 75 career touchdown receptions. Previously, Brown said that Roethlisberger was part of the reason he wanted out of Pittsburgh. Now, it appears that Brown is regretting those comments and his decision to leave the organization.
"We had a real heart to heart, (tried) to hash it out," Brown said with regard to the end of his time in Pittsburgh. "But I just think too much stuff built up that it was too late. Do I hate Ben? No. Do I love Ben? Yes. Ben's a great guy, great person, great quarterback. All the frustration we had could have been hashed out."
While they endured a rocky end of their partnership (at least on a personal note), Brown and Roethlisberger enjoyed the best QB-WR connection in the NFL over the past decade. With Roethlisberger as his quarterback, Brown led the NFL in catches, yards and touchdowns during a six-year span. Brown also became the first player in NFL history to catch 100 passes in six consecutive seasons that included 136 receptions in 2015. In turn, Roethlisberger earned four consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 2014-17 while solidifying his place as a future Hall of Fame quarterback. In 2018, their last season as teammates, Brown led the NFL with 15 touchdown receptions, while Roethlisberger thew for 5,129 yards to edge out Patrick Mahomes for the league passing title.
Like Brown, Roethlisberger barely saw the field in 2019, as an elbow injury in Week 2 forced Big Ben to undergo season-ending surgery. Roethlisberger, who has two years remaining on his current contract, is reportedly looking to be back for the start of the Steelers' offseason OTAs.
While Brown has been saying all the right things, fans are probably wondering whether or not Brown is being sincere or is he merely trying to get back into the NFL. Time will ultimately answer that question, as Brown will likely have to show a consistent string of appropriate behavior before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell considers having Brown back in his league anytime soon.
Goodell, during his annual Super Bowl press conference, discussed Brown and the obstacles he faces with regard to his return to the league. The league is currently investigating civil allegations of sexual assault and rape against Brown along with threatening text messages Brown sent to another accuser during his brief time with the Patriots. Brown is also less than a month removed from spending a night in prison following an altercation with a moving company. Brown was granted $110,000 bail and was ordered to receive a mental health evaluation.
"In Antonio's situation, I think the first thing is, for all of us, to think about the well-being of Antonio," Goodell said of the league's on-going investigation of Brown, via NFL.com. "To understand what Antonio's going through. We don't talk about the wellness of our players publicly, but I would tell you that you can be sure that the NFL and the NFLPA have a tremendous amount of resources that are available to all players. They are going to be made available to Antonio. We want to help get him on the right track, and get him in a position where he is in a zone where he thinks he can be successful in life. And we are confident that can happen. We want to work to do that and from our standpoint that's the first step. The first step is making sure that we're doing everything to help Antonio."
Brown, during the interview with 93.7 The Fan, said that he is now surrounding himself with people that are focused on helping him improve his mental health. Brown also continues to train with the hope of landing on an NFL roster sometime soon.
"I've been talking to my therapist," he said. "I've been talking to people that don't have no agendas, people who just allow me to express myself and listen to me and don't give me feedback with regard of what they're trying to get. I've been talking to people that are focused on my mental health."