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What Can We Learn From Antonio Brown’s Nonstop Social Media Tour?

The wide receiver appears to be on his way out of Pittsburgh, but the digital trail he’s leaving behind can tell us a lot about his desires, his issues with his head coach and quarterback, and his self-anointed nickname

Pittsburgh Steelers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In the week since Antonio Brown formally requested a trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers (either his first or his sixth request, depending on how you count) he has visited NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, hosted Q&A sessions on Twitter, and started live videos on Instagram, all with the same message: he wants to be traded. He parlayed his social media tour into a meeting with Steelers owner Art Rooney II. Here are the takeaways from Brown’s recent posts.

Brown does, in fact, seem on his way out of Pittsburgh

Even though Brown’s restructured contract will cost the Steelers $20 million–plus of cap room in 2019 even if he is playing for another team, it seems—for now—that he won’t be in Pittsburgh by Week 1. On Saturday, Brown hosted a Twitter Q&A in which he said that he was meeting with Rooney for the first time in a formal setting, and he seemed upset that it had taken so long.

On Tuesday, Brown tweeted that he and Rooney had “cleared the air” and they both agreed he should “move on.”

Moments later, ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed the meeting, and added that Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus; Steelers GM Kevin Colbert; and Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan later joined the meeting and agreed Brown should be traded.

It would be tampering for another team to reach out to Brown about a trade. If a team did reach out, one of its first questions might be about the January domestic dispute involving the mother of his daughter, who told police that Brown pushed her after she refused to leave his doorway, according to a report of the incident obtained by TMZ. (Brown was not arrested in the incident and he has denied any wrongdoing.) Brown is also being sued by a man who says Brown nearly hit the man’s 22-month-old son with furniture and items that Brown threw from a 14th-story balcony, also first reported by TMZ. Brown has also denied wrongdoing in that incident.

Brown wants guaranteed money (à la Le’Veon Bell)

In a mid-workout Instagram Live rant on Monday, Brown elaborated on his tweets more than he had in any forum in quite some time. In addition to insisting on being called “Mr. Big Chest” or “Big Chest Brown,” he reiterated that he wants to win and be the best, over and over and over.

“If any NFL teams out there watching, hit my phone. If one of them teams out there where the camaraderie bad, the energy bad, the players [are] haters, I don’t wanna play there, don’t wanna go there. I don’t wanna waste no time. Shout-out everyone tuning in.”

But he also made it clear he wants any money he earns to be fully guaranteed.

“I ain’t gonna brag or bullshit or talk too much, just know I’m still hungry. Just know my actions will speak louder than my words. Just know I’m one of the greatest to ever do it. Trust me. Trust me. If your team got guaranteed money, tell them call me. I ain’t doing no more unguaranteed money.”

Brown wants “no unguarantees,” i.e., he wants his contract guaranteed—and he probably at least wants the final year of his contract in 2021 guaranteed for the $12.5 million he is owed. It’s not an outrageous request. Brown has the fourth-most receiving yards by age 30 ever, but he signed a four-year deal in 2017 that guaranteed him just $19 million. Brown’s deal has the 24th-most guaranteed money among active wide receiver contracts, which is less than Kenny Stills, who signed his deal the same offseason.

He also offered an interesting insight into what has driven him to this level of outspokenness.

“Nobody is better than me,” Brown said into the phone. “How? How somebody better than me? All these first round, all these guys getting all this handed to them, I earned my spot. Everything I got. Name me another sixth-round [pick] like me. I’m waiting. Name ’em. Because if he out there I wanna study him, I wanna learn.”

Brown has issues with Mike Tomlin

The Steelers fan base turned on Brown at the beginning of the year. During head coach Mike Tomlin’s final press conference of the season—where he answered questions about reports that Brown had missed Week 17 because he was frustrated with the team and had requested a trade, not because of a knee injury—Brown went live on Instagram with James Harrison while the two were … watching Tomlin’s press conference. Tomlin was discussing, among other things, his inability to reach Brown before he no-showed for a walkthrough before the team’s matchup with the Bengals.

Interpret this as you will.

He has separate issues with Ben Roethlisberger

In October 2017, Brown responded to Roethlisberger’s calling him out for a “sideline temper tantrum” by saying that Roethlisberger had been right.

“There is no excuse for my behavior,” Brown said at the time. “I’m glad he did what he did and called me out. As the general of our team he got every right to call anything out that is not the mission of our team. I’m grateful we have a great leader who is forgiving.”

His Twitter Q&A on Saturday implied that that statement may not have reflected how he truly felt.

Brown had his son sign a contract

Brown’s contract isn’t even the one he’s focused on at the moment. He posted a video to his Instagram Story of a contract he had his 4-year-old son, Autonomy, sign on Monday night. Here’s a screenshot of the contract, which I’ve flipped upside down.

Sandwiched between clauses Learn how to tie his own shoes and Learn numbers, 1’s 10’s 100’s is, Learn how to write his name. Moments later, Brown tells his son, “If everything is good with you, I want you to sign right there.” His son responds, “How do you write it?”

After some instruction, Autonomy ends up signing it thusly.

“Congratulations,” Brown tells his son after signing. At least he’s happy with one contract situation.