Steelers' Antonio Brown shrugs off criticism from Ben Roethlisberger, says 'it's not personal'

As the NFL world debates if Ben Roethlisberger was within his rights as a veteran quarterback of 15 seasons to publicly reprimand his teammates as strongly as he did in the aftermath of the Steelers' loss to the Broncos on Sunday, one of the targets of the criticism has weighed in. Antonio Brown isn't taking the criticism personally.

After Big Ben ripped Brown for his route-running on the game-losing interception, Brown told reporters on Friday that he's OK with those comments and that they didn't affect him.

"I've got big shoulders. I can take it," Brown said, per ESPN. "Constructive criticism is only for you to get better. It's not personal."

On Roethlisberger's weekly radio show this week, he said that Brown needed to flatten his route on the goal line -- never mind the fact that Roethlisberger's pass was picked off by a defensive tackle who was blocked back into the route. He also called out rookie receiver James Washington for failing to come down with a tough catch and the play-calling at the end of the game, saying he would've rather have targeted JuJu Smith-Schuster near the goal line.

Nobody has challenged Roethlisberger's right to criticize his teammates, but what hasn't sit all too well is that he made those comments on his weekly radio show. There's a difference between trying to help a teammate improve by criticizing his performance in a team setting and taking shots at teammates through the media. On his part, Roethlisberger defended his comments by saying, he's earned the right to motivate his teammates in that manner.

Brown seemed to agree. He called his quarterback the "general" and "captain" of the offense, and noted they have the kind of relationship where they "can challenge each other."

"Ben's my guy, man. I love him. Anything he says, there's a method to his madness," Brown said. "It's only to inspire the group, encourage the group to be better. That's the type of guy he is.

"I don't know if it's been misconstrued or changed in regards to how you guys put it out there, but he means well. ... He's the only one in this locker room that's probably got a championship under his belt."

Prior to the loss in Denver, the Steelers had soared through the months of October and November with six straight wins. Even after Sunday's loss, they're still 7-3-1 and in charge of the AFC North. All is still well in Pittsburgh, but the Steelers have a daunting matchup on Sunday with another AFC contender in the Chargers. That game can be streamed on fuboTV (Try for free). 

However, a daunting closing stretch to the season awaits them. Three of their remaining five games will come against playoff teams in the Chargers, Patriots, and Saints as the Steelers jockey for playoff positioning -- including the hugely important first-round bye. 

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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