Typically, Mike Tomlin opens his weekly news conferences with a brief recap/summary of the previous game. Preseason, regular season, postseason, it's his way of opening his weekly news conference and allows him to begin this media session with a matter-of-fact approach.
But last Tuesday, following the Wild Card Round Game against the Dolphins, and today, following the Divisional Round Game in Kansas City, Tomlin opened by addressing what he termed "the elephant in the room."
Today's elephant was the video shot by Antonio Brown during the postgame locker room festivities following the victory over the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Tomlin said he was going to address the situation "in three specific areas," and then he proceed to do just that:
"First, the content of the video. I'd like to say that the language on the video is regrettable. The language by me, the by others. It's regrettable because this thing that is the National Football League, this platform that we have, is a precious and awesome thing. Not something we take very lightly. The responsibility associated with being in this thing, just from a role model standpoint, is something that I personally embrace, it's something that we as a team and organization embrace. That's why the language, specifically with regard to the content, is regrettable. That's why we go to great lengths to preserve certain moments and certain interactions between us, because we're very sensitive to the opportunity that we have as role models. So I apologize for the content of the video from that perspective. As a parent, as a member of a community, I take that very seriously, and so I sincerely issue an apology in that regard."
IMPACT OF THE VIDEO ON THE UPCOMING GAME
"In regard to the content of the video relative to its impact on this game, or as a distraction to our preparation, or to New England's motivation and so forth, I have absolutely no worries regarding that. We're in the AFC Championship Game. You're not going to creep in the back door in New England and win a football game and creep out of there with an AFC Championship. I'm not worried about our team's ability to deal with the potential distractions. We have prepared for distractions as much as we have prepared for this opportunity. We realize there are four tams working this week, and there are 28 watching. We realize that there are the same amount of television shows and radio shows that there normally are. So there's a certain intensity with being in this tournament. They have to fill that air-time with something, so we're not concerned about that. That has no consequence for us and our preparation and ultimately our play. We're just going to be a team that goes up there ready to play and play winning football, as we expect them to be. So from that perspective, I have very little concern about the content of the video."
ANTONIO BROWN'S ACTIONS
"The last element of the discussion is Antonio himself. I'll be bluntly honest here: It was foolish of him to do that; it was selfish of him to do that; and it was inconsiderate for him to do that. Not only is it a violation of our policy, it's a violation of league policy, both of which he knows. There are consequences to be dealt with from his perspective. We'll punish him, but we won't punish us. And we'll do so swiftly, and we'll do so internally. And I'll imagine there are consequences associated with the National Football League's policy in that regard. I'm sure he'll appropriately absorb all of those things as he moves forward. But larger than that, he's got to grow from this. He has to. He works extremely hard, he's extremely talented, and those things get minimized from incidents such as this. You wear on your teammates when they have to routinely answer questions about things that aren't preparation-for-football-related. It's our desire for him and for everyone to be great teammates as well as great players. He's a great player, a hard-working player, and he's respected largely in the locker room for those things, but incidents such as this don't help him that regard, and that's just the reality of it. In a nutshell, that's going to be the gist of the conversation we have.
"And the reality is, those things don't apply exclusively to Antonio. It's a global thing in regard to professional sport, and I think that often why you see great players move around from team to team. I definitely don't want that to be his story, and I'm sure he doesn't want that to be his story, and so he has to address these things that put him and us in positions from time to time in setting such as this where it needs to be addressed. Other than that, I haven't wasted a lot of time on it, to be honest with you. I haven't visited with him because on Mondays and Tuesdays I prepare for games. I'm going to see him at some point, and when I do, I will address it."
TOMLIN'S INJURY UPDATE
"Coming out of the game, William Gay has a shoulder and a triceps injury that's going to limit him, particularly during the early portions of the week. We're going to watch him as we do all guys who are limited in preparation. Anthony Chickillo, the same thing with his ankle. He's been out for a number of weeks. Hopefully, he'll put himself in a position to be an asset to us.
"Sean Davis is still dealing with his shoulder injury. He has been managing it in-game for a number of weeks, and appreciate his approach to it and his professionalism, not only in terms of dealing with it in-game but just managing it in preparation. I just visited with him and he's doing everything in his power to be at his best.
"Ladarius Green is in the protocol, and we'll still watch and monitor his progress. Ricardo Matthews with his ankle. Fitz Toussaint is in the concussion protocol. Vince Williams is still managing his shoulder.
"Largely, pretty good health for a football team at this juncture, playing in the type of games we're playing in. We're not going to complain about that, but we wouldn't do it anyway. The team we put on the field will represent us, and the standard will be the standard."