Mehno: Brown saga baffling on all accounts

PITTSBURGH — Bill Cowher suggested the whole Antonio Brown mess could be settled with a meeting.

Put Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger and Brown in a room and let them talk things out, Cowher said.

That presumes Brown is still based on planet Earth, which is not a safe bet based on his recent actions and limited words.

It’s become clear this isn’t a simple case of a player wanting a better contract or a new address.

Brown was seemingly happy with the Steelers at the start of last season. Then he soured like a man who had just eaten a bushel of lemons.

Is it a rift with Roethlisberger? Is it jealousy over JuJu Smith-Schuster winning the players’ vote for team MVP? Is it something else? Problems at home? Something deeper?

Brown isn’t talking, beyond cryptic statements and Photoshopped pictures of himself in another team’s colors.

It’s hard to solve a problem when it isn’t even really apparent what the problem is.

In the meantime, his situation has turned into a referendum on Tomlin. The fans have already fired him a million times. That cliche took a turn toward the interesting last week when some ex-players questioned Tomlin’s methods.

Hines Ward said Tomlin helped create an atmosphere that fosters the kind of tactics Brown is using.

Then again, Ward had a bone to pick with Tomlin. Tomlin thought Ward stuck around at least one season too long to chase the 1,000 receptions he eventually got.

But the preternaturally cheerful Jerome Bettis also found fault with Tomlin, and that carries some weight. Unlike Ward, Bettis never played for Tomlin. But surely he’s kept in touch with former teammates who have.

In the run-up to the Super Bowl, the Steelers wound up being the third most discussed NFL team, and not for the right reasons.

Good candidate

The Edmonton Oilers have a fabulously gifted player in Conor McDavid. They don’t have much else.

The Oilers have a franchise-level talent, but have failed to surround him with enough good players to compete for a championship. That’s why their general manager position is currently open.

They should call the Penguins and ask permission to interview Bill Guerin, who is currently serving as an assistant to Penguins GM Jim Rutherford. Guerin is the latest GM in waiting who may have to wait longer than expected for Rutherford’s retirement.

Rutherford, who turns 70 in a few weeks, recently signed a contract extension through 2022. Guerin is a sharp hockey guy who spent a few seasons playing in Edmonton.

The Oilers don’t have the ideal situation but by 2022, the Penguins’ job may not be quite so hot, either.

SUBHEAD: On the market

Ken Rosenthal, writing for The Athletic about unsigned star free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, had an interesting observation:

“Machado, a right-handed hitter, would have been a better fit, but the Dodgers became less enamored of him once they got to know him.”

Machado admitted during the World Series that he doesn’t always hustle because, “that’s not me.”

SUBHEAD: Throwback

The Penguins staged a 1980s themed night.

If it had been authentic it would have featured fans with bags on their heads, because that’s what they were wearing before Mario Lemieux arrived in 1984.

SUBHEAD: The pick?

It’s a big game and you need a pick.

So I’ll take New England, simply because it rarely pays to doubt Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Disclaimer: That formula didn’t work last season.

So watch the game and the commercials and refrain from betting other than in a small-stakes workplace pool.

Because, after all, what do I know?

John Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com


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