Bruce Arians had been the Steelers' offensive coordinator for three seasons when Antonio Brown arrived in 2010 as a sixth-round pick. Arians left after the 2011 campaign and after stops in Indianapolis and Arizona, he was named the Buccaneers' coach earlier this month.
On Tuesday, Arians said he sees a different Brown than the one he knew early in the wide receiver's career.
"There's too much miscommunication, too much ... diva," Arians said during an appearance on The Adam Schefter Podcast, via ESPN.com. "I've heard so many stories -- I like Antonio -- he plays as hard as anybody on Sunday, and he practices hard. He's just gotta make better decisions off the field, be on time, do some of those little things."
So what has changed?
"He was the hardest working," Arians continued. "He and Emmanuel Sanders, boy they went after it because [Steelers head coach] Mike Tomlin used to tell them, 'Two dogs, one bone.' And at that time, we had Mike Wallace, Hines Ward -- I mean, we had a pretty good run for one of them to get on the field. By the end of the season, they were both winning for us to go to the Super Bowl."
Interestingly, Brown confirmed last summer the "two dogs, one bone" motivational tool when he called out Arians and Tomlin in an Instagram post.
This is all started after Brown's latest incident, when he went missing days before the Steelers faced the Bengals in a must-win Week 17 game, and things have unraveled from there.
CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported two weeks ago that Brown has requested -- but not demanded -- a trade and that the wide receiver has issues with Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Days later, during his final press conference of the 2018 season, Tomlin told reporters that there had been no formal trade request but conceded that "lack of communication" was a key factor in the series of events that led to Brown not playing against the Bengals. When asked if Brown quit on his team, Tomlin said, "You can call it what you want."
We've even written about possible landing spots for Brown should a trade happen, and have the Steelers finding his replacement in our latest mock draft.
It's crazy we're even having this conversation; Brown led the league with 15 touchdowns in 2018 and he's had six straight seasons of at least 1,200 receiving yards. But here we are. Steelers president Art Rooney II told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week that it would be "hard to envision" Brown with the team in training camp, adding that while they wouldn't release the mercurial star, "all other options are on the table."
Since the season has concluded, Brown has tweeted about his Pro Bowl snub, tweeted a cryptic response to Rooney's remarks, been called out by former teammate Ryan Clark, and took to Instagram last week -- along with Chad Johnson -- to defend himself.
"For all the negative speculations about my character, I'll be addressing it soon," Brown said, via TMZ. "I'll be sure to tap in with you guys, but it's all positive. I'm 31, I'm still excited to play, I'm here with one of my mentors, one of my brothers. Right now man, I'm just embracing the New Year, the start of something fresh. That's all I can really give you all right now. But yes I'm 31 and still excited to play the game. I'm motivated, inspired, encouraged. Stay by the phone, my phone lines open."