Player Resource: Work Ethic – Antonio Brown

Aditi Kinkhabwala, (

The printing is neat. Block letters, evenly spaced, written with a mechanical pencil so nothing is missed while sharpening a yellow No. 2.

Antonio Brown’s penmanship fills six of these spiral notebooks, one for every year he’s been in the NFL. They all have black covers, all are packed with detailed precision. Routes, checks, the opponent’s tendencies in every situation Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley can imagine. Brown draws arrows. He records asides Haley utters. And then he goes back, every night, marking specific sections in bright yellow highlighter.

“He’s always writing,” Martavis Bryant, another fellow receiver, said.

“If you write it down,” Brown said, “you’ve got a memory.”

This is the Brown the Steelers know.

Yes, there is the Brown everyone else knows, the one of the goofy touchdown celebrations and staggering numbers — 136 catches, 1,834 yards this year, on top of 239 catches, 3,197 yards the two years before that. But those numbers, the MVP talk opposing coaches keep uttering, it’s all, Haley said, because of what’s quietly stocked in those notebooks: “He’s putting in the time and effort. He’s studying it. He’ll come and remind you he’s taking notes by repeating something obscure you said weeks ago.”

“He’s a guy,” Steelers corner William Gay said, “who never stops working.”

Brown’s work ethic is legendary in these parts. He doesn’t have the measurables of a prototypical top-flight receiver (though Steelers coach Mike Tomlin laughed, “Try telling him that”). He doesn’t have one obvious otherworldly skill, like John Brown’s speed or Odell Beckham Jr.’s hands. But he works. He’ll run ladders for hours after practice has ended, he has more catches over the last two years (265) than anyone has EVER had in a two-year span and he still works on the jugs machine, catching balls, every week. He goes to a Gold’s Gym at night, when most of his teammates are headed to bed, and James Harrison, the NFL’s noted workout master, said if on a scale of 1-10, his own commitment is a 10+, “Antonio is right there with me.”

It’s an — to use a Tomlin word — obvious adage: When a team’s best player is its hardest worker, it bodes well for the team. And so it’s not all that surprising that that trait was on the tip of Roethlisberger’s tongue Wednesday either. Roethlisberger made semi-waves on his radio show Tuesday, when he said the Steelers needed more from touchdown wunderkind Martavis Bryant.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s