The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

December 26, 2013

Brown voted Steelers MVP

PITTSBURGH — The first time Jerricho Cotchery walked into Antonio Brown’s house, it was all the newly acquired Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver could do to avoid the exercise equipment scattered across the living room floor.

“It’s like he never stops working,” Cotchery said.

Or ever stops producing for that matter.

In the midst of perhaps the finest season by a receiver in the franchise’s 81-year history, Brown was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player for the second time in three years on Thursday.

Brown won the award in 2011 after making the Pro Bowl as a kick returner and a rapidly developing slot receiver. If anything, Brown has become more indispensable in the interim.

Entering Sunday’s season finale against Cleveland, Brown already owns the club record for yards receiving in a single season (1,412) and with 101 receptions has an outside chance to break Hines Ward’s mark of 112 catches in 2002.

Oh, and he’s still returning punts, including a 67-yard sprint for a touchdown in a 30-20 victory over Cincinnati two weeks ago that kept Pittsburgh (7-8) in the postseason mix.

“Once he gets the ball in his hands, everybody is holding their breath because something usually special happens,” Cotchery said.

It’s an ascension the Steelers bet on in the summer of 2012 when they signed Brown to a $42 million contract extension while Mike Wallace futilely held out for more money. Wallace eventually did get paid, inking a $60 million deal with Miami last spring.

Early on, it appears Pittsburgh made the right choice. Wallace has 68 receptions for 905 yards and three scores for the Dolphins. When the Pro Bowl rosters are announced on Friday, Brown’s name will almost certainly be read. Wallace’s almost certainly will not.

Brown declines to draw any sort of comparison. He and Wallace are friends and two completely different players. Wallace relies heavily on his all-world speed, while Brown’s talents rely on his quick feet and his ability to make things happen in the open field.

Cotchery points to Brown’s near miracle play at the end of a 34-28 loss to the Dolphins three weeks ago as proof of Brown’s unique ability. Trailing by six with three seconds left, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hit Emmanuel Sanders for a 25-yard gain down the left sideline. While his teammates scattered across the Heinz Field turf, Brown hung out at the Pittsburgh 40.

“He was just kind of waiting in the corner while everybody was flicking the ball around, just waiting his turn like, ‘I’m ready, I’m ready,’ ” Cotchery said. “Then we were just watching.”

While Brown’s madcap dash to the end zone ended when he inadvertently stepped out of bounds at the Miami 12, the list of players who would have gotten even that far is short.

It’s why Brown continues to do double-duty on punt returns, where his 13.4 yards per runback ranks third in the league. It’s a job Brown accepts eagerly even if he’s the only No. 1 receiver in the league who still plays a significant role on special teams.

Then again, there are few premier receivers who look like Brown. At 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds, he’s the point guard to Calvin Johnson’s power forward.

There was a time while Brown was in college at Central Michigan that he went to Ford Field to watch Johnson play for the Detroit Lions.

Five years later, Brown and Johnson were exchanging jerseys after a 37-27 win in Pittsburgh last month, a sign of mutual respect from one star to another.

“He is different than anyone I’ve coached,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “That goes back a ways. Generally, they (guys that line up on the outside) have been big-body guys. He is breaking the trend right now.”

It’s become a habit.

Brown admits he’s still fueled by the reality that 194 other players were taken ahead of him in the 2010 draft. Ask him why he thinks it took so long to be selected and he simply shrugs his shoulders and says, “I’m not the scout.”

Maybe, but the insult – whether real or perceived – continues to irk him. It’s one of the reasons he’ll hop on the treadmill in the middle of the night, or head straight from practice to a nearby gym for another workout.

That doesn’t make him different than a lot of players, perhaps. It’s the consistency, however, that makes his teammates marvel. Brown has at least five receptions and 50 yards receiving in every game this year even as defenses have adjusted to slow him down.

“(His work ethic) just overflows into every other area,” Cotchery said. “He comes in to develop more things in his game. He goes and puts it to work on Sundays. He doesn’t take a day off.”

Notes: Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee), G David DeCastro (back), LB Terence Garvin (knee) and LB Jason Worilds (abdomen) did not practice on Thursday.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Sports
  • SRU vs UPJ baseball0418 1 UPJ takes one, drops second

    John Fees’ spring baseball season accurately mirrors that of his Pitt-Johnstown team.
    Fees started slow, losing his first four decisions, but has rebounded nicely in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0418 Brewers ward off late Pirates rally bid

    Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
    Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drama lacking sans Tiger

    If professional golf saw its future at Augusta National last weekend, the sight had to be worse than choking on a 5-foot putt.
    The course was there in all its splendor.

    April 18, 2014

  • Penguins 0418 Penguins are wary of spunky Blue Jackets

    Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you’re the best hockey player in the world.
    Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0417 Pirates power past Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
    Harrison’s two-run drive down the left field line off Rob Wooten (0-1) was the second of his career as a pinch hitter.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0417 Jackets preparing for Game 2

    The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t feel they’re doomed after blowing a two-goal lead in a Game 1 loss of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
    “It’s not about missed chances, or feeling sorry about it,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said at Thursday’s optional workout, 13 hours after falling 4-3 in Pittsburgh.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Briefs

    April 17, 2014

  • racin 0416 Jennerstown Speedway gearing for May open

    Jennerstown Speedway released a very ambitious schedule on its website and continues to prepare for its 2014 reopening.
    The track is set to hold a practice day for drivers as well as an open house and media day on April 26.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Hawks already building toward next season

    Jason Spence used up his cell phone’s battery on a trip from Johnstown to his parents’ home in Nova Scotia, Canada.
    Once the Johnstown Tomahawks coach got to his destination, Spence had to get creative to secure cell service across the border.

    April 16, 2014

  • Pirates 0416 Dominant Cueto drops Pirates in matinee

    That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn’t any more special.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide