Antonio Brown's 2013 season was so combustible it at times defied accurate characterization if not description.
"That man's been on fire," Ike Taylor insisted, "F-I-Y-A, fire."
For a cornerback to wax so glowingly of a wide receiver speaks volumes as to the degree Brown is appreciated by his defensive as well as his offensive teammates.
The announcement today of Brown as the Steelers' 2013 Most Valuable Player transcended such traditional boundaries in the locker room comprised of teammates who voted to so honor Brown for the second time in three seasons.
"I don't know his stats exactly but I know he's approaching records if not having already broken them, so he's certainly well-deserving," said tight end Heath Miller, the Steelers' MVP a season ago. "He's made a ton of plays for us as an offense, and he's one of the best punt returners in the league.
"So I think he would be valuable to our team."
Brown's 1,412 receiving yards this season are a franchise record, having eclipsed the mark Yancey Thigpen established in 1997 (1,398). Brown's 101 receptions trail only Hines Ward's 112 in 2002 in Steelers' history. And his 388 yards on punt returns this season made Brown just the fifth player in franchise history to surpass 1,000 yards for his career in that category (1,006), where he joined Rod Woodson, Antwaan Randle El, Theo Bell, and Louis Lipps.
"He's done some special stuff this year," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said of Brown. "He's made plays, obviously, a lot of plays on offense but he's made a lot of splash plays in the special teams, as well. He's just an incredible talent. He proved he's a No. 1 receiver in this league, and you don't have to be 6-foot-4 and whatever pounds to be described as a No. 1 guy."
Brown did what he has done this season at 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds, and without the deep-threat presence of Mike Wallace on the other side of the field.
"I saw the same guy come to work every day and be the best player he can be," Miller said. "He got his opportunities, and he made the most of them. Certainly, he had more opportunities this year. Last year, he had the ankle thing that he kind of had to deal with and as a small, fast, quick player when you're dealing with something like that, it has an effect on you. He's been healthy this year, and he's made a ton of plays for us."
Brown missed three complete games last season after departing with an ankle injury sustained in the second quarter on Nov. 4 against the Giants. He finished with 66 catches for 787 yards.
This season he has established career-high totals in receiving touchdowns (eight), receiving yards, and punt-return yards.
"He has great route running," Cotchery said. "He catches the ball very well. But once he gets the ball in his hands it's really tough to get him on the ground. He does so many things great. You can't do everything great, but he does a lot of things great and that's why you see the type of numbers he has."
And that's why Brown was the resounding choice as team MVP.
"Hands down," Taylor said, "I would say him and (strong safety) Troy (Polamalu)."
Added Miller: "Certainly (quarterback) Ben (Roethlisberger) has had a really good year numbers-wise. There are a lot of good players on this team and those two are certainly at the top."