PITTSBURGH — Antonio Brown is nearly getting as much practice at saying "I’m sorry" as he is at catching touchdowns.
The Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver apologized via Twitter on Wednesday for his sideline outburst early in his team’s victory in Baltimore last Sunday. Brown broke free on Pittsburgh’s second possession and was wide open down the left sideline.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t see Brown and instead threw the ball short. Brown briefly lost his cool afterward, taking out his frustration on a Gatorade cooler in the process.
"Apologize for all the noise and the distractions Steeler nation let’s stay focus," the All-Pro posted.
Roethlisberger described Brown’s actions as a "temper tantrum" during the quarterback’s weekly radio show and coach Mike Tomlin encouraged Brown to be "professional," though it hardly seemed to create any sort of rift in the team’s locker room.
Defensive end Cam Heyward joked it’s not as if Brown acted like former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight, who once famously threw a chair across the floor in the middle of a game.
"He got mad one play, so what?" Heyward said. "He’s not Bob Knight. He’s not throwing a chair on the court, saying this and that, cursing out everybody. It’s sports. You’re supposed to be competitive. You’re supposed to be mad sometimes."
This isn’t the first time the highly productive but occasionally pouty Brown has drawn attention for something other than being one of the most dynamic receivers in the league.
He drew a strong rebuke from Tomlin in January after livestreaming from a victorious postgame locker room following a playoff win over Kansas City. Brown’s also earned fines for his touchdown celebrations, and more than once has publicly lobbied for the ball.
To most of the Steelers, that’s just Brown being Brown.
"At the end of the day, things happen in football games that are always crazy," safety Mike Mitchell said. "We’ve moved past it. We’re an extremely tight-knit group of guys. If you guys spend enough time in our locker room you see how much guys make fun of each other and argue and yell at each other. That’s just an extension of it.
"Obviously we’ve got to stay in control of it and not let it get too far, but it was nothing that I think is counterproductive to our culture. That’s just how we communicate sometimes."
Roethlisberger backtracked a bit Wednesday and made it a point to express his admiration for Brown’s play.
"We’ve got amazing chemistry," Roethlisberger said. "I like to think that we may go down as one of the best quarterback-wide receiver duos of all-time.
"That would be an awesome honour because of the guys that I consider are up there. So, you have to understand what the defence gives you, try not to force it at times but also knowing sometimes forcing it works, too, with him."
NOTES: S Sean Davis (ankle), G Ramon Foster (thumb) and DE Stephon Tuitt (biceps) did not practice Wednesday. … Roethlisberger was given the day off. … LB Bud Dupree (shoulder), TE Jesse James (shoulder) and LB Ryan Shazier (shoulder) were limited. … T Marcus Gilbert (hamstring), LB James Harrison (illness) and Mitchell (hamstring) were full participants.