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19/04/2019 9:48 pm  
Just when it looked like cooler heads might prevail in the ongoing Antonio Brown saga after the relatively calming words of Maurkice Pouncey and Cameron Heyward this week <a title="Joe Haden Jersey" href=" removed link ">Joe Haden Jersey , it would be fair to say things took a step backward on Friday. More revelations about the Steelers star receiver would emerge and Brown was back to upsetting the fans on social media with an image of himself in a San Francisco, just a day removed from posting an encouraging message to his teammates at the Pro Bowl.Few could have read the report from Jeremy Fowler of ESPN and taken much comfort in the picture he painted within the Steelers organization. But while Brown’s perpetual lateness issues and the star treatment he received might have been the headline driving parts of the piece, the sense of a team lacking leadership at all levels was perhaps the overriding theme of the article.Far from being seen as a cancer in the locker room or the distraction some would have you believe, there was clear affection for Brown from both past and present teammates and an obvious respect for his work ethic and production. Where AB appears to be unquestionably at fault is his disregard for the rules and procedures that govern the rest of the team.But while he is unquestionable responsible for his own actions, it is impossible to absolve Mike Tomlin of his part in allowing it to get so far. As someone who would suggest it is up to the players to be responsible for their own behavior, it is hard to argue that the head coach is not responsible for setting and maintaining a structure the team will follow. This does not mean that Tomlin needs to micromanage every situation and cannot let his superstars slide on minor infractions, but overlooking habitual lateness, missed meetings and permitting him to stay off site during training camp was a policy that was never going to end well. A potential issue a number of his teammates foresaw coming, according to the report from Fowler.Nine years into his professional career, it would appear that Brown has been given so much leeway it is almost impossible to reign him back in. If the report is to be believed, the Steelers have essentially given up on trying to fine him, with his benching in Week 17 looking like an attempt to discipline him for turning lateness into a no show in the final week of the season. With even the most ardent Brown supporters willing to acknowledge that AB can be somewhat emotional and perhaps a little thin-skinned at times <a title="Vance McDonald Jersey" href=" removed link ">Vance McDonald Jersey , it would appear that his response to a firmer hand has not been positive. As arguably the biggest star on the roster, Brown has been led to believe he is somewhat untouchable and it is no surprise to learn that he is unresponsive to that arrangement changing. Once a team full of star names all over the roster, it would be fair to say that Pittsburgh has lost a number of big personalities from their locker room in recent years. As that void has developed, there are fewer and fewer teammates close to Brown’s status on the roster and only four names older than him, something Bryant McFadden alluded to when talking to Fowler.Of all the insights that have been shared that could logically explain how the situation has developed to the point it is now, McFadden’s reasoning might actually be the most rational. With the retirement of Troy Polamalu, Heath Miller, Ike Taylor and Brett Keisel in 2015, the Steelers lost some of their most significant locker room leaders from over a decade. Each player personified the Pittsburgh way and without them there can be little question the Steelers lack some of the identity they once had. In their absence, a different brand of football had been allowed to develop with players like Ben Roethlisberger and Brown as team leaders, one that has not always been as conducive to team chemistry. The now infamous Facebook Live incident happen the year the aforementioned players had left the team and it is hard to believe the whole fiasco occurs if they are all still in that locker room. With them gone, there can be few players Brown feels the same level of respect for <a title="Tyson Alualu Jersey" href=" removed link ">Tyson Alualu Jersey , something his recent lack of communication with his teammates would seem to indicate.For a younger generation of players, the tacit approval of Brown’s behavior by the coaching staff sets a precedent for the rest of the roster to follow, with Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell the more obvious examples of players who also felt it was acceptable to arrive late to practice or miss it altogether. Art Rooney II appeared to acknowledge the team’s error in the way they had been handling their star receiver in a recent sit down with reporters, a failure that many within the organization are responsible for,After so much time being allowed to act a certain way, it feels overly optimistic to believe the Steelers can draw a line in the sand with Brown and have any faith he will not cross it, especially when that line they want to draw is so far behind where he currently stands. It might be too late to put this particular genie back in the bottle. But if Pittsburgh really does want to change the culture in the locker room, trading Brown to another team might actually give them a chance for a reset and send a message to the rest of the players that some behavior actually is unacceptable. Fowler also appeared on the Rich Eisen show on Friday to talk about many of the points from his article on Friday. For those interested ... We’re all aware of the significance of winning vs. losing when the Steelers take the field against Cleveland. The Steelers were big winners last week without even playing. With still a lot of games remaining, the playoff contenders and pretenders aren’t set in stone..but contests will increase in importance by the week. Most of the time, Steelers fans know who to root for. But here’s a guide to significant matchups and whose losses the Steelers would benefit more from this weekend.If the season ended today, the Steelers would be the third seed in the AFC, but there are plenty of teams to root for in other action. Here are the current AFC playoff standings.Kansas City Chiefs 6-1 (Would win AFC West and would earn them a First Round Bye)New England Patriots 5-2 (Would win AFC East and would earn them a First Round Bye)Pittsburgh Steelers 3-2-1 (Would win AFC North and host Wild Card Cincinnati)Houston Texans 4-3 (Would win AFC South and host Wild Card Los Angeles Chargers)Los Angeles Chargers 5-2 (Would earn Wild Card and travel to Houston)Cincinnati Bengals 4-3 (Would earn Wild Card and travel to Pittsburgh)Baltimore Ravens 4-3Miami Dolphins 4-3New York Jets 3-4Tennessee Titans 3-4Jacksonville Jaguars 3-4Denver Broncos 3-4Cleveland Browns 2-4-1Indianapolis Colts 2-5Buffalo Bills 2-5Oakland Raiders 1-5Philadelphia Eagles at Jacksonville Jaguars (London) - Sunday 9:30 AM Jacksonville is struggling. But if they get healthy and should the running game get turned around <a title="Justin Hunter Jersey" href=" removed link ">Justin Hunter Jersey , they could be dangerous. Fly Eagles...Fly.Who to root for: Philadelphia Baltimore Ravens at Carolina Panthers - Sunday 1:00 PMBaltimore is still the biggest threat to the Steelers in the division. So, of course, it’s got to be Carolina on my mind.Who to root for: CarolinaDenver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs - Sunday 1:00 PMWow, the Chiefs are ridiculously good. Denver is not a threat and the Broncos beating the Chiefs would slide the top seed closer to striking distance for the Steelers.Who to root for: DenverTampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals - Sunday 1:00 PMRooting for the Bengals is done only when totally necessary, There’s no necessity here. In fact, the decline of Who Dey would be awesome should it continue.Who to root for: Tampa BayNew England Patriots at Buffalo Bills - Monday 8:15 PMIf this was 25 years ago, the Bills would be the big threat and the Patriots would be at the bottom of the conference. However, the Patriots are always a danger these days and a loss combined with a Steeler win would advance the Steelers up the conference ladder.Who to root for: BuffaloAFC Bye-Weekers: Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee TitansOther games featuring AFC teams:New York Jets at Chicago Bears - Sunday 1 PMIndianapolis Colts at Oakland Raiders - Sunday 4:05 PM