Should the Steelers move on from Antonio Brown? Big Ben wants him back

The Pittsburgh Steelers played the last game of the regular season, a game they had to win against the Cincinnati Bengals to keep their chances of making the playoffs alive, without All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown.

Brown turned up during the week with what was reportedly a knee issue, but it turns out it wasn’t a knee injury at all.

And now one former Pittsburgh player believes it’s time for the team to move on from the mercurial receiver.

Meanwhile, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger acted on Tuesday like there had been no issue between he and Brown.

Practice dispute

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Gerry Dulac and Ed Bouchette reported that Brown had a disagreement with a teammate last Wednesday during a walkthrough, and NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala reported that teammate was Ben Roethlisberger.

Brown didn’t practice for the rest of the week. The Post-Gazette reported it was Brown’s decision not to do so, citing a source.

On Saturday, when the Steelers held their final walkthrough and evening meeting at the team hotel, Brown was nowhere to be found.

He still showed up at Heinz Field on Sunday expecting to play, and did not, and kudos to the Steelers for sitting their best player in a game where they obviously could have used him.

Kinkhabwala reported that Brown left the stadium at halftime.

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Antonio Brown through his career
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Antonio Brown through his career
PITTSBURGH, PA - CIRCA 2010: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers poses for his 2010 NFL headshot circa 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 21: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates celebrates during the game against the Oakland Raiders on November 21, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 15: Wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball after a catch against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 18: Wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the sideline during a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field on August 18, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Eagles 24-14. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 06: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates following a catch for a first down against the Baltimore Ravens during the game on November 6, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 16: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after making a catch in the second half against the New York Jets during the game on September 16, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Jets 27-10. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 10: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers makes a catch in the end zone that was over turned as a touchdown in the first half against Corey Webster #23 of the New York Giants during the game on August 10, 2013 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 20: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers plays against the Baltimore Ravens during the game on October 20, 2013 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 28: Wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers smiles as he looks on from the sideline during a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field on August 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Panthers defeated the Steelers 10-0. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 12: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 30: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers signs autographs before the game against the New Orleans Saints on November 30, 2014 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 25: Team Carter wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before the 2015 Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 25, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 31: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown attends the 2015 NFL Honors at Phoenix Convention Center on January 31, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scores a 2-point conversion during the 2nd quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 27, 2015: Wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers smiles at fans prior to a game against the Baltimore Ravens on December 27, 2015 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore won 20-17. (Photo by: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 18: Wide receiver Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers smiles as he looks on from the sideline during a National Football League preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field on August 18, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Steelers 17-0. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 09: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up prior to playing the New York Jets at Heinz Field on October 9, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 13: Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Antonio Brown (84) catches a pass during warmups before the NFL Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 13, 2016, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Cowboys defeated the Steelers with a final score of 35-30. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 11: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball after a catch against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at New Era Field on December 11, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 08: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after scoring his second touchdown during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 01: Wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on before a game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 12: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) takes a selfie with a fan before the NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts on November 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 16: Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Antonio Brown (84) looks on during the game between the Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 16, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) looks on during the AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 14, 2018 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 03: NFL player Antonio Brown attends the 2018 Big Game Weekend Hearing Mission With Starkey Hearing Technologies on February 3, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images for Starkey Hearing Technologies)
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On Monday, during final team meetings, Brown again was a no-show.

Brown finished the season with 104 catches for 1,297 yards and an NFL-best 15 touchdowns in 15 games.

Roethlisberger: ‘I didn’t see it’

During his weekly appearance on Pittsburgh station 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday, Roethlisberger somewhat oddly pleaded ignorance to any incident between him and Brown.

“That’s what’s baffling to me, people are making a big deal about a walkthrough on Wednesday, a fight between he and I. If there was a blow up or something, I sure as heck didn’t see it,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m not sure where that comes from.”

He added that he spoke to Brown on Thursday morning and felt everything was fine, though he reached out after that and hasn’t gotten a response. Other Steelers players have also reached out to Brown and not gotten a response, which Roethlisberger acknowledged is frustrating for them.

Asked about Brown’s future with the team, Roethlisberger said, “I’m obviously not the coach and the owner. I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I love Antonio and wish him nothing but the best. I hope he’s back with me because he makes me better.”

Was Roethlisberger covering for his teammate because he feels he needs Brown for a chance at a Super Bowl run in 2019?

See more from this NFL season: 

74 PHOTOS
The best photos from the 2018 NFL season
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The best photos from the 2018 NFL season
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) can't make the catch against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 16: Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants fumbles the ball as he is wrapped up by Kamalei Correa #44 of the Tennessee Titans during the second half at MetLife Stadium on December 16, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - DECEMBER 13: Cornerback Kendall Fuller #23 of the Kansas City Chiefs breaks up a pass intended for wide receiver Keenan Allen #13 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the game at Arrowhead Stadium on December 13, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 10: Shaquill Griffin #26 of the Seattle Seahawks breaks up a catch by Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field on December 10, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 09: Darius Slay #23 of the Detroit Lions catches the ball intended for Trent Sherfield #16 of the Arizona Cardinals then runs the ball 67 yards for a touchdown in the second half of NFL game at State Farm Stadium on December 09, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 09: Running back Doug Martin #28 of the Oakland Raiders dives for and scores a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at O.co Coliseum on December 9, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints' Michael Thomas (13) and Carolina Panthers' James Bradberry (24) grab each other's face masks in the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, left, is hit after passing by San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner, right, and linebacker Elijah Lee, bottom, during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen (3) is sacked by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Bruce Irvin (52) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)
Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake (32) runs for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 34-33. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Breshad Perriman make a touchdown catch as Denver Broncos defensive back Tramaine Brock (22) and defensive back Dymonte Thomas (35) defend during the first half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Kansas City Chiefs corner back Kendall Fuller, lower right, is called for pass interference against Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (81) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. The call gave the Chargers a first-and-goal on the one-yard-line. The Los Angeles Chargers won 29-28. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 02: Zach Cunningham #41 of the Houston Texans intercepts Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns for a touchdown in the second quarter at NRG Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 02: Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants leaps over Adrian Amos #38 of the Chicago Bears for extra yardage during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on December 02, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 25: Trae Waynes #26 of the Minnesota Vikings breaks up a pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling #83 of the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 25: Carlos Hyde #34 of the Jacksonville Jaguars grabs the face mask of Star Lotulelei #98 of the Buffalo Bills as both teams scuffle during the third quarter at New Era Field on November 25, 2018 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo defeats Jacksonville 24-21. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - NOVEMBER 25: Kenyan Drake #32 of the Miami Dolphins runs for a touchdown in the game against the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 25: Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders #10 of the Denver Broncos leads a celebration in the end zone after a second quarter Denver Broncos touchdown catch by tight end Matt LaCosse #83 during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on November 25, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 25: Sony Michel #26 of the New England Patriots stiff arms Darryl Roberts #27 of the New York Jets during the second half at MetLife Stadium on November 25, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 25: Arizona Cardinals walk out to the field ahead of the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center on November 25, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 25: Denzel Ward #21 of the Cleveland Browns attempts to tackle Joe Mixon #28 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 25: The New York Jets take the field prior to the game against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium on November 25, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 25: Chris Carson #32 of the Seattle Seahawks runs the ball against Eric Reid #25 and Thomas Davis #58 of the Carolina Panthers in the third quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 25: Nick Chubb #24 of the Cleveland Browns catches a pass for a touchdown over the defense of Brandon Wilson #40 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Quarterback Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates his touchdown on a seven yard rush by dunking the football between the goal posts during the third quarter of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 19, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 18: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers dives for the go-ahead touchdown during the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on November 18, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 18: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts after pulling in a touchdown reception against the Dallas Cowboys at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 18, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 18: Vance McDonald #89 of the Pittsburgh Steelers catches an 11-yard reception for a touchdown over Telvin Smith #50 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth quarter on November 18, 2018 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The Steelers won 20-16. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 11: Austin Hooper #81 of the Atlanta Falcons flies through the air after being tackled by Jamie Collins #51 of the Cleveland Browns in the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass the ball as his jersey is grabbed by Lawrence Guy #93 of the New England Patriots during the second half at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 04: Keenan Allen #13 of the Los Angeles Chargers attempts to make a catch while being guarded by Shaquill Griffin #26 of the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter at CenturyLink Field on November 04, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 04: Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers runs the ball against Carlton Davis #33 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 25: DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans catches a pass defended by Xavien Howard #25 of the Miami Dolphins in the third quarter at NRG Stadium on October 25, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 21: Chandler Catanzaro #7 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicks the game winning field goal in overtime during a game against the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium on October 21, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21: Denzel Perryman #52 of the Los Angeles Chargers helmut comes off after he tackles Dion Lewis #33 of the Tennessee Titans during the NFL International Series game between Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Chargers at Wembley Stadium on October 21, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 18: Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders #10 of the Denver Broncos flips in to the end zone after catching a 64-yard pass during the second quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on October 18, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 14: Danny Amendola #80 of the Miami Dolphins is flipped by Leonard Floyd #94 and Roquan Smith #58 of the Chicago Bears in the first quarter of the game at Hard Rock Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 07: James Conner #30 of the Pittsburgh Steelers dives into the end zone for a 1 yard touchdown in the first quarter during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Heinz Field on October 7, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 04: Eric Ebron #85 of the Indianapolis Colts is tackled by Patrick Chung #23 and Dont'a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium on October 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 30: Wide receiver Chad Williams #10 of the Arizona Cardinals falls out of bounds during the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at State Farm Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 30: Nyheim Hines #21 of the Indianapolis Colts catches the ball in the 3rd quarter against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams (16) makes a catch over Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (24) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods, defended by Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay (23), makes a catch during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Carolina Panthers' Christian McCaffrey (22) avoids the tackle of Seattle Seahawks' Tedric Thompson (33) during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, top, dives over the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, including Jordan Dangerfield (37) and Anthony Chickillo (56), to score a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)
Miami Dolphins' Reshad Jones stops Green Bay Packers' Lance Kendricks during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) sits on the turf after being sacked by the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Denver Broncos running back Devontae Booker (23) fumbles the football as Houston Texans strong safety Justin Reid (20) looks on during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Denver. Reid recovered the ball. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Justin Evans (21) grabs the face mask of Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) dives for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the second half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) runs for a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens' Terrell Suggs (55) in the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki (86) leaps over Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23), during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)
Cleveland Browns defensive back Damarious Randall (23) attempts to tackle Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) in the second half during an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Seattle Seahawks running back Mike Davis (27), left, escapes the clutches of Oakland Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead (59) during the first half of an NFL football game at Wembley stadium in London, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates after he broke the NFL all-time passing yards record in the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in New Orleans, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Minnesota Vikings' Adam Thielen (19) catches a touchdown against Philadelphia Eagles' Ronald Darby (21) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) is tackled by Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith (50) during the first half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Carolina Panthers' Colin Jones (42) recovers a New York Giants fumble in the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, left, is hit by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston, right, after throwing a pass during the first half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton (14) can't make the catch as Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Orlando Scandrick (22) breaks up the pass during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard, left, tackles Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, left, runs to celebrate with tight end Ryan Hewitt (45) after they teamed up on a 1-yard touchdown pass against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku, left, is unable to hold onto a catch on a pass attempt as he is pressured by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey in the end zone in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen, left, makes a leaping catch just outside the end zone as Denver Broncos defensive back Tramaine Brock (22) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel, bottom, loses the ball as he is hit by Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) and linebacker L.J. Fort (54) in the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Pittsburgh. Driskel recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward (35) breaks up a pass intended for Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jordy Nelson (82) during the first half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) pulls in a 5-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Mohamed Sanu during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) runs against Denver Broncos outside linebacker Bradley Chubb during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Dec. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/John Hefti)
Chicago Bears tight end Trey Burton (80) falls forward in front of San Francisco 49ers cornerback D.J. Reed Jr. during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Jacquizz Rodgers (32) is stopped on a run by Dallas Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis (27) and defensive tackle Antwaun Woods (99) in the first half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Green Bay Packers' J'Mon Moore (82) is tackled by New York Jets kicker Jason Myers, bottom, while trying to return a kickoff by Myers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 23: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots dives for the end zone to score a 32-yard receiving touchdown during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 23: Jalen Tolliver #17 of the Arizona Cardinals reaches for a pass in front of Aqib Talib #21 of the Los Angeles Rams in the first half at State Farm Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 23: Ryan Grant #11 of the Indianapolis Colts attempts to catch a pass in the game against Janoris Jenkins #20 of the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Time to go?

ESPN analyst Ryan Clark, who was teammates with Brown in Pittsburgh for the first four seasons of Brown’s career, was on the network’s flagship “Sportscenter” Monday night and was highly critical of Brown as a player and person, going so far as to say it’s time for Pittsburgh to send Brown packing.

With the caveat that we don’t fully know the relationship between Clark and Brown and whether Clark has some long-standing beef with the receiver, here’s what Clark said.

“Antonio has been a guy who’s been a ‘me’ guy. He’s been a guy who’s self-centered in a way where he cares about the individual stats, how I’m being treated, how I’m being perceived or portrayed,” Clark said. “But the one guy you can’t have infighting with is Ben Roethlisberger. There are many players in the organization that Antonio Brown is above – Ben is not one of those people.

“But for it to get to a point where he’s held out of this game, a must-win for the Pittsburgh Steelers, when you see him on the sideline in a mink coat before the game, not Pittsburgh Steelers gear, not sideline gear, totally separate from team, that lets you know this is an issue that’s not about today or yesterday, it’s been something that’s happening through the year and his career.”

Show host Scott Van Pelt wondered how Brown could have jeopardized his availability for a game his team had to win, and Clark again hammered Brown’s selfishness.

“When you’re Antonio Brown and you have the mindset that he has, he’s above that. You’re never going to touch Antonio Brown,” Clark said. “Quick story: Antonio Brown is walking past the weight room in training camp [in 2012], Antonio’s going into his third year, we hear that Mike Wallace has turned down his deal. And I knew already that they were going to offer [a contract extension to] Antonio. And he’s walking past and I turned to the strength coach and I said, ‘when you give him money, you’re going to create a monster.’

“That day in practice, Antonio and I almost get into a fight because he’s saying things to [defensive coordinator Dick] Lebeau, he’s screaming at coach Lebeau, he’s screaming at us defensively, ‘don’t touch me, I’m the franchise!’ Because he already had that mindset, and now with success, with money, these things come.

“You hear more about him, some things we don’t need to bring up now, but when it comes to being a good teammate, when it comes to just being supportive, understanding that you’re trying to achieve one goal, that doesn’t matter to him. What matters to him is 19 attempts, 14 catches, 185 yards, two touchdowns against the Saints [Brown’s numbers in Week 16].”

Van Pelt wondered how the Steelers will move on from this – Kinkhabwala said that coach Mike Tomlin hadn’t addressed Brown’s behavior with the rest of the team, which is odd – and Clark believes they can’t.

“This is where Mike Tomlin has to put his foot down and shop Antonio Brown. Obviously you want to get something for him; he’s one of the best wide receivers in the league, matter of fact, he’s one of the best football players in the league.

“JuJu Smith-Schuster has shown you he can be a No. 1. Ben Roethlisberger speaks glowingly of James Washington. This is about the fabric of the team. This is the guy that goes on Facebook Live [after a January 2017 playoff game] as your coach is talking and leaks information outside the locker room that never should be there. This is about the guy that publicly talks about not getting the ball or issues with the offensive coordinator, knocks over garbage cans or knocks over Gatorade bottles because he doesn’t get the rock.

“At some point, when you’re an organization that’s built on team, an organization that’s built on integrity, you have to show the rest of the locker room that. Will he be good going forward? Probably so. But you have to take that stand. …Time for him to go.”

Brown responds, sort of

Early Tuesday morning, record-setting San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle sent out a short tweet intended for Brown: “Sup? @AB84”

Brown saw it and responded simply with a smiley face emoji with stars in its eyes.

The 30-year-old Brown has three years left on his current contract, with an average base salary of $12.13 million per year.

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