Much was made about the Pittsburgh Steelers disappointing 2012 season and the leadership- or lack thereof- got a lot of fingers pointed its way.
That will happen when a veteran team parts ways with the likes of James Farrior, Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, Chris Hoke and others. Given their current salary cap situation, the Steelers will likely see another slew of veteran players not be around for the 2013 season, begging the question of who will emerge as new leaders of this team?
The first one to throw his name into the hat is wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Brown recently said that he hopes to address the lack of leadership by taking on more responsibility for guiding the team back to the winning record that eluded them in 2012. Brown told the team’s website that he wants to serve as a bridge from the teams of the past to the Steelers of the future.
“We have a lot of young guys,” Brown said. “A lot of guys haven’t been around here for the history of this team. I want to make sure guys understand the importance of being here, the tradition and what is required from our peers, coaches and everybody inside this building. You have to know the history of something if you are a part of it. You have to know where it started, where it came from and what it’s about. You know where you are with it now and where you want to go. I can help teach guys about that and take that type of approach. Every man here has to understand the importance of what the Steelers logo stands for, the men that came before us and wore the jersey and we have to understand the importance of it, be humbled by it and work with that mentality.”
It’s nice to hear that from Brown, who the Steelers gave a long-term extension to a season ago. But as we have seen in the past, it is easier to talk the talk than walk the walk.
Brown was the Steelers team MVP in 2011, but you could have made the case that he was one of the team’s most disappointing players in 2011.
The first way Brown can lead is by stepping up in terms of his production, something that may be difficult without Mike Wallace, who is projected to leave as an unrestricted free agent, on the other side.
Without Wallace, it is natural that Brown will have more responsibilities on the field. Now it just remains to be seen if he can live up to those responsibilities.
If anything give Brown some credit for knowing he needs to do more and taking the steps to make sure he does.