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Antonio Brown Talks Steelers Nation, Vows to Be Good Role Model with Raiders

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 13, 2019

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 23: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers attempts to catch the ball as Marshon Lattimore #23 of the New Orleans Saints defends during the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 23, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley once told people that he is not a role model, but Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown sees things differently in regard to his relationship with fans.

The 30-year-old Brown, who was officially traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers to Oakland on Wednesday, had an introductory press conference and said he'll "continue to be a good role model" in the Bay Area while offering praise for Steelers Nation.

"To any kid out there from Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, will always be my family. Those guys gave me a chance when I was a 21-year-old kid. I know Steeler Nation is having a bad day today, but it's always love. I encourage every kid who watched me work and were inspired by everything I've done, I hope I'll continue to be a good example, continue to be a good role model and continue to inspire people all over."

There's a decent amount to unpack in one four-line statement.

First, Brown playing a significant part of the NFL news cycle seemingly every week obscures the fact that he's the owner of one of the game's best success stories. As Dan Gigler of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted in a 2011 article, Brown grew up in Liberty City, Miami, which was described by Antonio's younger brother, Desmond.

"It's not easy growing up in Liberty City," Desmond Brown said. "You see the struggle every day, of hard times and a hard economy. A lot of people fall victims to crime and incarceration. We have a lot of friends in jail and that have died young. It's very rare that people make it up out of there."

Brown was also temporarily homeless. He overcame long odds as a sixth-round pick out of Central Michigan to become one of the most electrifying players in the game.

Second, Brown and the Steelers may have parted somewhat amicably despite some 2018 season drama that included the wideout becoming animated on the sidelines in Week 2 versus the Kansas City Chiefs and sitting out numerous practices in Week 17 before eventually getting benched against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Brown posted the following tweet, which seemed to indicate an olive branch of peace of sorts with the franchise:

Antonio Brown @AB84

Had a great meeting with Mr.Rooney today we discussed a lot of things and we cleared the air on several issues! We both agreed that it is time to move on but I’ll always have appreciation and gratitude towards the Rooney family and @steelers organization! #CallGod #Boomin https://t.co/DEgURchvhW

He's also made numerous comments in regards to his love for Steeler Nation.

As for whether Brown is a role model, that's up to individual people to decide. But his precipitous rise to NFL pro and then sixth-round pick to future Hall of Famer is remarkable.

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