Don't Steal Antonio Brown's Shoe

Steelers Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown won’t let you get him down. Even if you steal his cleats.




Photo by Pittsburgh Steelers/Mike Drazdzinski
 

 

Antonio Brown acts like he doesn’t notice that he’s only wearing one shoe. He’s just run one of his signature routes — a precise 5-yard button hook that will look like an intricate origami figure when it’s drawn up on the telestrator. These kinds of routes are how Brown makes his living now, filling in the empty, treacherous spaces between the hash marks left by his absent mentor. Short, thankless patterns that often end with a dirt-clumped face mask. The types of routes that drive defenders to the point of delirium throughout the course of 60 minutes. In this case, it takes only 29.

Brown turned the first defender to the scene into a flailing-turned-flopping Superman, then hit the open field before Philadelphia Eagles safety Kurt Coleman was forced to take him down, literally, by his shoestring. Frustrated, Coleman took a souvenir with him — Brown’s left shoe.

And that’s when it happens. As Brown bounds up from the sod and heads right back to the huddle without even asking for his cleat to be returned — his tube sock all white against the brownish Heinz Field muck — Coleman gives in to his frustration. He whips Brown’s shoe deep into the Steelers’ sideline like it’s a rolled-up Sunday paper.

“It was a sign of mental weakness,” Brown says. “Right then I knew I had enforced my will upon him. When somebody throws your shoe, you’ve got them beat mentally.”

Instead of freaking out, Brown channels the mentor who taught him how to lather opponents into this kind of conniption: recently retired Hines Ward. W.W.H.D.? It’s a mantra that’s been embedded into the Steelers’ young receiving corps. What Would Hines Do? He’d just smile.

“So I didn’t say anything to him,” Brown says of the brouhaha. “I just smiled and ran to the sideline. That’s what got him.” It’s not just the I’m-having-more-fun-than-you grin. It’s that familiar post-catch bounce — an infuriating bunny hop that Ward bequeathed to his understudy.

But in order to understand the improbable success of Brown, a sixth-round draft pick in 2010 who made his first Pro Bowl last season, you need to understand another acronym — a message that Brown sends out to his 140,000-plus Twitter followers every single day: C.U.E.U.P.U.

“Chest up, eyes up, prayed up,” Brown explains, sitting at his locker at the team’s practice facility, trying to ignore the little-brother charades of pal Mike Wallace, who makes it a point to mess with the mild-mannered Brown on the rare occasions that he grants an interview.

“C.U.E.U.P.U. is something I came up with as a daily inspiration,” Brown says. “It’s a constant reminder that if I live with my chest up and my eyes up, and I’m prayed up, I can handle anything life throws at me.”

Life has thrown plenty at Brown, who grew up in Miami’s notoriously violent Liberty City neighborhood. Due to a complicated family situation, Brown was without a home at age 16, and relied on friends and coaches for safe harbor. Adapting to any situation — and doing it with a smile — became his forte on and off the field.

“The only thing you can do when you’re in a tough situation is to have a singular vision,” Brown says. “Every single day, you have to remind yourself of where you want to be, not where you’re at.”

Perhaps it’s not hard to be humble when you go from Top Ramen to top shelf in just a few short years, as Brown did when he inked a contract extension that will keep him in black-and-gold until 2017. But even when he was still on his league-minimum rookie contract in 2010, Brown made it a point to be a man of the people.

After touching down in Indianapolis the week of Super Bowl XLV, Brown sent a message to his Twitter followers simply asking, “Indianapolis, what’s up?” Seth Paladin, a member of the Steeler Nation diaspora living in Indy, sent Brown a message back offering to hang out and show him the city. Incredibly, Brown accepted.

“The next thing I know, I’m sitting in Antonio Brown’s hotel room,” Paladin remembers. “And he’s just sitting there eating a sandwich, talking like we’re old friends. Next thing I know, he asks if I want to go work out with him.”

The two new buddies ended up going to Paladin’s gym to swim laps and do Pilates for the next four days. To pay Paladin back for his hospitality, Brown took him and five friends to an Indiana Pacers game, where they sat courtside. As the crew walked back to the car after the game, Brown once again proved his innate ability to roll with the punches. “This guy ran right up to Antonio convinced he was [former NFL great] LaDanian Tomlinson,” says Paladin. “I think the guy had one too many beers, and he’s yelling, ‘LaDanian! LaDanian!’ And Antonio just played right along with him. It was great.”

Later in the week, when Brown became overwhelmed with pre-Super Bowl preparation and realized he forgot to pack dress shoes, he gave Paladin his credit card and asked him to track down a pair of size 11 Gucci loafers.

“I know the guy four days and he trusts me with his credit card,” Paladin says. “Maybe I should’ve bought him an extra pair, just to be safe. He’s been losing his shoes lately.”

 

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

With so many options in and around the city, every couple can find the special space that feels just right — whether they’re looking for nature, rustic charm, fairytale romance, stained-glass beauty, treasured religious ritual or classic tradition.
Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Delve below the surface to explore the underground areas that serve as vital pathways to our region.
Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Chefs who grew up in Pittsburgh are shaping the culinary scene in other cities across the country — and gaining national recognition in the process.
Restaurant Review: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is Smokin'

Restaurant Review: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is Smokin'

The meat-centric restaurant in the Strip District is helping to redefine Pittsburgh's dining expectations.
Cranking Out Old School Valentines Sealed with a Quirk

Cranking Out Old School Valentines Sealed with a Quirk

In Lawrenceville, a love for letterpress leads to a business whose greeting cards reach audiences across the country.
Pittsburgh's Third Renaissance and Complaints from 2007

Pittsburgh's Third Renaissance and Complaints from 2007

This third Renaissance has allowed us to be spectators as Pittsburgh changed from a city suffering the damages wrought by the collapse of its steel industry to a vibrant, active place known for its academic, medical and technology sectors.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Sweetheart Ideas: How to Make the Most out of Valentine's Day

Sweetheart Ideas: How to Make the Most out of Valentine's Day

From a hotel “Love Lockdown,” to a museum breakfast in bed, to a rooftop singles event - there's plenty to eat, drink at do in Pittsburgh on this weekend for love.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: Yikes! Imagine This Instead of a Fountain at the Point

PittGirl: Yikes! Imagine This Instead of a Fountain at the Point

City leaders considered many options for Pittsburgh's confluence including something that looked like it was designed by the Jetsons, or an absolutely bonkers, batpoop insane idea by the one and only Frank Lloyd Wright.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Wigle Whiskey Ripe for Expansion with Threadbare

Wigle Whiskey Ripe for Expansion with Threadbare

The Strip District distillers will launch a hard cider business this fall.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
7 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

7 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

Easy access from universities, wallet-friendly prices and really good food make these our favorite choices for the university set.

Comments


Head to 'Quick and Shameless' For an Unpredictable (and Essential) Night of Pittsburgh Comedy

Head to 'Quick and Shameless' For an Unpredictable (and Essential) Night of Pittsburgh Comedy

The LGBTQ-friendly variety show offers one of the city's most unusual (and often unforgettable) lineups of comedic talent.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Super Bowl Predictions: Can I Have That One Back?

Super Bowl Predictions: Can I Have That One Back?

Denver's upset win over Carolina -- predicted by hardly anyone (including yours truly) -- should be interpreted as good news for Steelers' fans.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Shirts We Love For Valentine’s Day

Shirts We Love For Valentine’s Day

Let your heart do the talking with these fun sweaters from Rosewood Boutique.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
George Clooney, Jane Austen, Nicholas Sparks and Some Zombies Walk Into a Multiplex

George Clooney, Jane Austen, Nicholas Sparks and Some Zombies Walk Into a Multiplex

Our reviews of "Hail, Caesar!," "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and "The Choice."

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Love and Lace: Six Stand-Out Dresses

Love and Lace: Six Stand-Out Dresses

To coincide with the launch of our Spring 2016 Weddings magazine, we’ve created a Week of Wedded Bliss — seven stories to introduce you to the couples featured in our Real Pittsburgh Weddings. On day two, we fall head over heels in love with these six dresses.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Pillow Talk: Pittsburgh's Skyline Inspires New Design Line

Pillow Talk: Pittsburgh's Skyline Inspires New Design Line

Check out the new pillow collection from local interior designer Zach Mitchell. Plus, get the scoop on The Pittsburgh Christmas Carol Tour.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Mock Crime Scene to be Held at Waynesburg University

Mock Crime Scene to be Held at Waynesburg University

The event is for high school students who are interested in criminal justice, law enforcement and forensic science.

Comments