The game Sunday afternoon was nothing short of suspenseful, but lost in the mess was the achievement of the former sixth round pick out of Central Michigan. Against the Packers, despite the snow, Antonio Brown caught six passes for 105 yards, putting him at 1,412 yards on the season, breaking Yancy Thigpen’s record from 1997 of 1,398 yards.
While this may be just a Steelers record that is no where near as impressive as records set by Calvin Johnson, the story of how he got to this point is just as impressive.
Many of the well-known receivers such as Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green were drafted in the top 10 of their respective draft. These elite receivers can even be found in the later first round to the end of the second, such as Dez Bryant, Larry Fitzgerald, Josh Gordon, and Alshon Jeffery. When do you see number one, much less elite receivers come out of rounds later than the 3rd? A teams chances of finding an elite receiver in the later rounds is something that very rarely happens. But, the Steelers are lucky to be able to call themselves one of these teams.
Antonio Brown was drafted 195th overall in the 2010 draft, and he looked like he could have very well have been a player that wouldn’t even make 53 man roster out of training camp. The irony of the situation was that the pick the Steelers used to draft Brown was a result of the Santonio Holmes trade. The Steelers traded the troubled receiver to the New York Jets for a 5th round pick, which they ended up trading to the Arizona Cardinals for former Steelers corner Bryant McFadden. In addition to McFadden, the Steelers also received the Arizona Cardinals 6th round pick, which was the 195th overall pick used to select Antonio Brown.
If there was a redraft of 2010′s draft, there is a good chance, if not a guarantee that Brown would be drafted in the top 10, but you can’t blame the 32 teams for not drafting him until the third day of the draft. He ran a sub 4.5 forty yard dash, and he didn’t have the mold that elite receivers tend to have. He was 5’10 186, unlike every single receiver that I listed earlier on that is around 6-3 to 6-5 and over 200 pounds.
If he didn’t have the size or ability, then how is he where he is today? Hard work. Its as simple as that. Antonio Brown has made a reputation for himself of working his way to becoming the best. Brown’s practice wasn’t done when everyone else’s was. He always made himself practice more than what he was asked to since he knew he didn’t have the pure skills or size to be the best. I have witnessed this first hand, as he would stay after a hard days work at training camp to catch balls and practice his routes. Never satisfied, he would always pick Ben’s brain, attempting to become the best.
Following a season where he had 1,108 receiving yards, and over 1,000 return yards, Brown signed a five-year extension on July 27, 2012 which was around 42 million. While much of the talk of the offseason was about fellow star receiver Mike Wallace, in the end it was Brown who signed the big extension.
Antonio Brown went on to have a mediocre season, with 66 receptions for 787 yards and five touchdowns, questioning the Steelers decision to give Brown an extension. Not long into free agency, Mike Wallace signed a monster deal with the Dolphins, which was much more than the Steelers most likely offered. Many experts questioned the Steelers offense due to a lack of explosive players, but in 2013, Antonio Brown has proven all of the doubters wrong. Taking a look at Antonio Brown’s statistics compared to Mike Wallace’s, the Steelers look extremely smart now.
101 receptions for 1,412 yards for 8 touchdowns
68 receptions for 905 yards and 4 touchdowns
With one game remaining, Antonio Brown needs 11 receptions to break Hines Wards receiving record, and while it is not out of reach, the likeliness of it happening is not great. Whether or not Brown breaks the Steelers signal season receptions record, he is most likely on his way to a second team MVP, following a season to remember from the fourth year man out of Central Michigan.
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