“I just wanted to go out and prove to the world,” said Bryant. “Everybody was doubting me. I was going through a lot. I wanted to go out and prove to everybody I can go out and do the right things. I don’t even hear about it anymore and that is great.”
When many had doubts,
And when his quarterback challenged him, Bryant knew he would respond.
The season got off to a tough start when he was suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, and wasn’t activated until the Steelers sixth game.
“It was rocky. It was a rough start,” said Bryant. “I would say I learned a lot, got better and matured. A lot learned and a lot to look forward to.
“I learned how not to give up on yourself. To keep working. I learned how to keep myself motivated and stay consistent.”
When he returned to the field, many wondered what he would do. How he would respond. If he would be the player he was capable of being.
He knew, though. He had zero doubts.
In his first game back against the Arizona Cardinals at Heinz Field he responded with six receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns. The play of the game was an 88-yard touchdown that he caught at the Steelers 22-yard line and the rest was a combination of moves and speed as he sprinted to the end zone, not to be denied.
Bryant went on to have touchdown receptions in four of the next six games, but in the final four regular season games failed to get in the end zone.
“Everybody got used to me scoring touchdowns every game, and when I went through a spam where I didn’t score four weeks straight they were like what is going on,” said Bryant. “You can’t score every game.”
“I wasn’t mad,” said Bryant. “People were trying to blow it up like it was a big deal. He texted me that morning about it. What happened on camera wasn’t what was going on behind closed doors. I wasn’t worried about it. It was to wake me up and motivate me to be on key.
“I just wanted to be consistent, get back to what I used to do. There was no pressure. When you want to be great there is no pressure.”
Bryant’s postseason spoke for itself. From his acrobatic catch against the Bengals to his nine catches for 154 yards against the Broncos, he did exactly what he knew he was capable of.
“I got back to what I used to do,” said Bryant. “I got back to having fun. I just want to move forward and keep getting better. I am going to work hard this offseason.”