Pittsburgh Steelers star receiver Antonio Brown watched the locker room drama play out regarding holdout running back Le’Veon Bell earlier this week and was not impressed.
Bell has declined to sign his $14.5 million franchise tag for this season and emotions boiled over on Wednesday when several players let loose with their feelings over his absence.
Brown said the turmoil — the strong comments, the harsh critiques — was unnecessary.
“No one wins when the family feuds,” Brown told reporters on Friday, two days before the season opener against the Cleveland Browns. “At the end of the day, we’re family. We want the best for him. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about pointing fingers and fighting among each other. We are a core group that should respect and love each other regardless of the situation.”
Brown was asked if Bell was still part of the family.
“When he comes, we’ll be a part,” Brown said.
The Steelers have shown no inclination to rescind the franchise tag and Bell has steadfastly refused to sign it. The 26-year-old will forfeit $853,000 for each week he stays away.
With the first game closing in, Bell’s decision to remain away from the team irked numerous players.
“What do you do?” left guard Ramon Foster said to reporters on Wednesday. “Here’s a guy who doesn’t give a damn, so I guess we’ll treat it as such. I just hate it came to this.
.”.. He’s making seven times what I make, twice as much as (left tackle) Al (Villanueva) is making and we’re the guys who do it for him.”
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is among the players who spoke out about Bell.
“Football’s the ultimate team sport. One guy doesn’t make or break you,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday. “So I’d like to say that the linemen are more important than any skill position player, including myself, on this team. This offense is more than one guy.”
Brown said that each player has “their own personal business” to deal with.
“My business is to be the best guy here,” he said.
Brown said that is his mantra whether or not Bell shows up.
“Employee 84 is here, ready to work,” Brown said. “No one else matters.”
Also, tight end Vance McDonald was ruled out Friday for the game against Cleveland. He is dealing with a foot injury.
—Field Level Media