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Brown’s Helicopter Ride a Sign of the Times for Steelers

Antonio Brown's drop-from-the-sky arrival at training camp didn't exactly set an all-business tone coming off a disappointing end to the 2017 season.


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James Harrison had intended to set a tone when he showed up at Saint Vincent College in a fire truck last summer, to make a bold statement about toughness, teamwork and togetherness in the face of adversity.

But in the end, Harrison merely opened the door for what became a season of occurrences and utterances that no one saw coming, including the Steelers ultimately showing Harrison the door in response to his conduct unbecoming.

This time around, Antonio Brown dropped out of the sky in a helicopter.

“I just want to be on time and be ready to go,” Brown explained.

At least he avoided the traffic on Route 30.

“I think if I pulled up in a chopper, you guys (in the media) would think it was pretty cool,” Brown added.

It was, at that.

What it wasn’t was a business-like, nose-to-the-grind-stone approach.

Here we go, Steelers, here we go.

Here we go, again.

“This is the most adversity I’ve ever been through in a football season that had nothing to do with football,” Vince Williams had insisted in the aftermath of last January’s playoff disaster against Jacksonville. “It’s crazy.

“I’m talking about the (national anthem) incident in Chicago, where we were misunderstood with the incident with Al (Villanueva), that was crazy. I’m talking about the Martavis (Bryant) tweets, that was crazy. ‘A.B.’ (Brown) getting hurt, him missing some time, that was difficult. Ben (Roethlisberger) saying after the first Jacksonville game he didn’t know if he still had it, all that stuff was adversity. Even built up into the season, we had L. Bell (Le’Veon) kind of hold out, not be in (training) camp. We just had a lot of media adversity this year.

“It’s the most I’ve ever been a part of since I was a Steeler.”

Williams didn’t even mention Mike Tomlin and Mike Mitchell talking about Patriots games weeks in advance, a taboo according to a long-established NFL protocol (in Mitchell’s case it was in advance of a Patriots game that wound up never being played; he’s probably still trying to remove the last remnants of egg from his face).

Or Bell’s threatening a holdout this season days before last season’s postseason.

At least Williams addressed Bryant as “Mar-tay-vee-us” (many among Bryant’s now-former teammates never did get that right).

Williams also captured the spirit of the thing.

The Steelers’ 2017 season was the Season From Hell in terms of distraction, perceived, self-inflicted and otherwise.

And there are plenty who remain convinced all that potential distraction was ultimately responsible for the Steelers’ demise (Harrison became the latest to pile on about a lack of discipline when he compared Tomlin unfavorably to New England genius Bill Belichick last week).

Williams wasn’t running with that crowd back in January.

“To be honest with you, I kind of think it helped with the continuity of this team because we had so much trouble stuff that we had to overcome that it made us grow together,” he said.

That’s a hard sell in Steeler Nation, which would much prefer a kinder, gentler progression (as long as it doesn’t lead to 9-7).

Or more of the same, provided the circus can keep the tents from collapsing in early January this time.

photo by pittsburgh steelers | karl roser

Bell did his part toward picking up where the Steelers had left off by once again declining to report for training camp with the rest of the squad, as he had a year ago in the midst of an ongoing contract squabble.

As for the rest, the hope should be not to avoid potential distraction and drama, but for better blocking and tackling.

“Drama’s drama, but it’s how you handle it,” Landry Jones offered.

Winning cures all.

It’s everything, Vince Lombardi once purportedly said.

Failing that, even a fire truck or a helicopter somehow aren’t enough.

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