This is the time of year when NFL coaches stress the need to cut out "distractions."
Yet the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves dealing with one because of a questionable decision by wide receiver Antonio Brown after the Steelers beat the Kansas City Chiefs to advance to the AFC Championship.
Brown secretly filmed — possibly inadvertently — Mike Tomlin's postgame speech in the locker room, via Facebook Live, capturing, among other things, Tomlin calling the Patriots (their next opponent) "a--holes." The post was quickly deleted, and Brown could face punishment from the NFL for violating the social media policy.
On Tuesday, Tomlin apologized for his choice of words, but also offered an ominous response to Brown.
The implication is clearly that if Brown acts in a way that hurts the team, he won't be with the Steelers for much longer.
Ben Roethlisberger also had a strong response to Brown, telling 93.7 The Fan:
"It's an unfortunate situation that we've got to deal with right now. That's a sacred place where things are said and hugs and tears, and it's kind of a special place. So a little disappointed with AB for that. ... Coach talks and then I talk, and you just don't want everyone to know what's going on in there with the family. And also, I wish AB would have been listening to Coach and myself instead of being on the other side of the locker room filming."
Tomlin said on Tuesday that Brown will be punished internally.
While it's a fairly minor incident, it's clearly become something of a distraction for the Steelers as they prepare for a huge game against the Patriots. They certainly don't have plans to trade perhaps the best wide receiver in the league, but much like their Sunday opponents, the Steelers will ship out players who don't fit their team culture.