Maybe Antonio Brown didn’t follow up his breakout 2011 season with the dominant 2012 campaign that Steelers fans hoped for. I believe it was a fluke, nothing more.
Where Mike Wallace was taking it easy because he wanted a new contract, I think that Brown tried a bit too hard to live up to the new deal that he signed before the season. He’ll settle in and be a bigger contributor this year.
At his best, he is hands-down a better receiver than Wallace in every area other than straight-line speed. He has also mentioned a desire to be a leader for next year's team, a role that Wallace had the opportunity to seize. Instead, Wallace disappeared, both on the field and in the locker room.
There's a lot of commotion about Wallace leaving the Steelers this offseason, but if you watched enough games, you saw that this year, he wasn't really there anyway.
The picture is bigger than just the stats, though. It sounds corny, but the Steelers only keep receivers who are good representatives of the team. Historically, the team merely rents pass-catchers for the duration of their rookie deals and moves on.
Brown is active in the community and has become a fan favorite. He keeps out of the headlines and is always ready to interact with fans, especially through social media. He’s the kind of guy who makes Steelers fans proud to root for the black and gold.
The front office that watched talented playmakers such as Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes don the uniforms of other teams re-signed underdogs such as Brown and Hines Ward to new contracts. Character counts when it comes to receivers in Pittsburgh, and Antonio Brown is next in a line of players to be proud of.