Antonio Brown entered the media room at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Tuesday morning flanked by his girlfriend and four children. Perhaps they can serve as an excuse why he was a not-too-bad “only” 15 minutes late for the press conference announcing his new mega-contract with the Steelers.
No one had any complaints about the notoriously perpetually-tardy Brown today – certainly not Steelers president Art Rooney II, who stood behind and to the right behind Brown as Brown fielded questions from the media. A small, proud smile was permanently affixed to Rooney II as Brown spoke.
“The timing of it, really, works for all of us,” Rooney II said in brief remarks introducing Brown. “I want to thank Antonio and his representatives for the hard work in getting this done.”
How much work? Consider that Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told the Trib that he attended all four of the Steelers’ preseason games. Remember, this is a super-agent whose client list is as impressive in its length (close to 100) as it is in quality (Rob Gronkowski and LeSean McCoy among them). Think about all the places he could have been – and an agent needs to be – during the frenzied month before the regular season begins. In a show of support for Brown and how badly he was going to work with the Steelers to get a deal done, Rosenhaus kept showing up at Steelers games, again and again.
That might not have been the primary determining factor in the contract getting done – but it set a tone, and it didn’t hurt.
“The end result (of the contract) is our client getting a deal that he deserves and that he can feel good about and the team can feel good about,” Rosenhaus said in a phone interview Tuesday. “That’s the mark of a good deal, where everyone feels solid. So I appreciate the Steelers’ integrity for following through with their commitment and not wavering and seeing that it gets done.”
Brown, who’s spent all seven of his seasons with the Steelers, likewise expressed his appreciation: “The Rooneys did a great job of accommodating me. They always do a great job in that regard. I’m just grateful we could get things done early enough. “
Brown has always found motivation through means that include the tried-and-true “proving people wrong.” He even on Monday tweeted a not-so-flattering draft profile of himself from 2010. Will now that he has his new deal and can claim the title of “highest-paid receiver in NFL history,” where does Brown find his motivation?
“Every year you have to prove yourself,” he said. “Every year is a new year and a fresh start, so you have to come out and prove yourself. And that battle is never ending. Every year I’m judged on my performance and how I make the team better.”
“I just give everybody inspiration and motivation. If you work hard and do the right things, you’ll get rewarded. And the result for working hard and doing the right things is being in this position.”
The whole idea behind those advances collapsed if the Steelers didn’t give Brown an extension this spring. That they did shows what they think of him as a player.