The Steelers didn't create Antonio Brown, but they sure didn't do much to hinder his development into an egomaniac, and in turn one of the worst role models in the NFL.
Pittsburgh dealt Brown to Oakland for several draft picks, one of which was used to trade up in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft for Devin Bush. Insisting the Steelers won the trade -- which they surely did after AB failed to suit up in one regular season game for the Raiders -- is one thing. Celebrating his resulting downward spiral into NFL irrelevance, however, misses the point entirely.
For a brief period of time, Brown emerged from the nightmares of Steelers' fans to sign with the New England Patriots, only to have several allegations of sexual misconduct (and the subsequent intimidation tactics) leave Bill Belichick and Co. with no other choice but to cut a man many believed would be a future Hall of Famer.
The Steelers and Mike Tomlin are receiving praise for handling Brown for nine seasons without much controversy. Sure, there was the facebook live incident which helped motivate the Patriots to curb-stomp the Steelers en route to the Super Bowl, but compared to the events of this summer, Pittsburgh came out relatively unscathed. Yet, this fails to take some truly obvious factors into account.
First, MOST, if not all, of these allegations are for events which occurred while Brown was a Steeler. Pittsburgh just didn't know about them (or maybe they did and buried it all), and allowed Brown to don No. 84 in black and gold whilst allegedly performing the acts which now see him on the sidelines, perhaps permanently.
Their failure to identify this behavior in Brown is not the fault of team executives, but speaks to, to put it lightly, good luck. This news very easily could've broken sooner, forcing the Steelers to make a very tough decision regarding their top receiver and Ben Roethlisberger's then-favorite target.
Would they have handled it the same way? We'll never know, but they don't exactly have the best track record.
In short, celebrating the public embarrassment Brown has suffered not only makes light of the civil charges against him, but also fails to take into account the very basic benefit the Steelers received, which is timing.
It's far too easy to comment on Brown's release from a pure sports perspective, yet his descent has very little to do with his on-field ability. No NFL team is responsible for what Antonio Brown has become. For the time being, he is jobless, and ought to be dealt with as a private citizen facing very serious allegations, rather than an asset one team might've stolen from another.