If there is anyone in the Steelers locker room who has their finger on the pulse of what is happening, who understands and gets a feel for it, it’s Maurkice Pouncey.
The nine-year veteran, and one of the offensive team captains, has earned the respect of his teammates not just for his on the field play, but also for the way he handles things off the field.
Pouncey gets it, and what he is getting from all of the talk surrounding Antonio Brown, is that in time it will pass and things will work themselves out.
Pouncey, who is one of six players representing the Steelers at the 2019 Pro Bowl, spoke to a small group of local media following the AFC practice on Wednesday. And the main topic, or basically the only topic other than maybe one other question about playing in the Pro Bowl with his twin brother Mike, was Brown, including his lack of communication with the team since the season ended, his relationship with Ben Roethlisberger and the entire situation surrounding the whole ordeal.
“We are a band of brothers. We have been together a long time,” said Pouncey. “I have known my brother for 29 years and I promise you we have had a lot of fights. But at the end of the day no matter what anyone says, I am going to love him. When you look at the bigger picture there has been so much accomplished by everyone here. You can’t tell me a good phone conversation or sit down can’t get things right. Hopefully it comes to that. Things have been memorable there. I had a lot of great memories with a lot of guys. For that to be so dramatic and the way people are printing it now, it doesn’t sit well. But I think they can get it right.”
Pouncey, who described Brown and Roethlisberger as ‘the best duo in Steelers history,’ said the one thing that could be the key in getting it right is plain and simple. Time.
“In my opinion I think it’s more of a time thing,” he said. “Time heals everything. All I am saying is people are so quick to be judgmental on things, and so quick to have negative things in the world. Just let things pass over. I know it’s a disappointing season. We have a lot of great players on our team. We should be in the playoffs playing. I honestly think we should still be playing right now. For reporters that have been following the team a long time. For fans who have been following the team a lot time. I get it. It’s disappointing. Trust me it’s disappointing for us. We all want it. It’s whenever things like that happen sometimes you can overlook the bad things that happen. Most teams do. When you are winning everything is great. When you have a couple of losses back-to-back like that, we can always find reasons not to like a certain thing. That is my take. Honestly I feel like we have been a family, we have been together so long now, nine years. No one can break that. We have been there longer than college, high school.”
Pouncey said that Brown hasn’t been a distraction for the team at all, no matter what is reported.
“Never a distraction,” said Pouncey. “I have been around a lot of great players. When you have great players, no matter what anyone says, no matter what anyone thinks, they always have little ‘it’ factor to them. I played with Percy (Harvin) and (Tim) Tebow, two of the greatest players in the world. Maybe sometimes they didn’t agree with things. But when they went out there on game day they loved it. They wanted to go out there and win.
“You guys know. You guys have been watching superstars your whole life. If there is a younger guy that has no credibility, we wouldn’t be talking about it. The simple fact that it’s two Hall of Fame players is the reason it’s getting brought up so much. Rightfully so. I agree everyone has opinions and everybody should be able to talk about things. That’s how this world is. In my opinion things will get worked out. Trust me I have been in fights with guys in practice. You guys have seen it. What do you guys think, I don’t like them again. They are my brothers. They are my family. At the end of the day you get past all of that. It takes time. The stories you see now will never get brought back up when things get right again.
“I know AB and I know Ben. We’re all older. When you get older it might take some time to call somebody. You know sometimes when you have an argument you say some things that you don’t mean. We all do it. You sit there and regret it. No matter if you want to come out publicly and say it or maybe you do it on your own terms in private. At the end of the day things will get worked out. I honestly and truthfully feel that. From talking to Ben and personally knowing AB, being in the draft class with him and being here a long time playing football. I know this football team. I know you get over things. It’s football arguments. I am pretty sure they had them in high school.”
Pouncey, who said things that were reported by the media regarding a disagreement between Brown and Roethlisberger during a team walk through never happened, hasn’t talked to Brown since the season ended, but also hasn’t reached out to him.
“I don’t want to reach out to anybody,” said Pouncey. “The season was over. I was more disappointed. I couldn’t do enough to get us in. We all couldn’t do enough to get us in. You just want to get away from it. I think this is the first time coming out here being able to say these types of things, and being able to voice my opinion on it. You guys know the type of team we have. The organization. I don’t care what anybody else on the outside has to say. You guys have been there, have seen it. You know the type of team we have, how guys react inside the locker room. We are all really good friends. It’s not like no one knows each other. And no one doesn’t talk to each other. I know everyone has opinions. I have opinions. Some of the reports on the outside let them know things will get better.”
Check out photos of the Steelers at the 2019 Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida