Note: Recently, LLT was granted the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with Antonio Brown, the Steelers' 2nd year wide receiver! The following is a transcript of their interview. Steelers Universe would like to extend our gratitude to Antonio for taking the time to talk with us, and Cristina Alor, Director of Public Relations for Rosenhaus Sports, for coordinating our interview with Antonio!
SU: This is Perry Biggerstaff from Steelersuniverse.com and weíre talking to Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Antonio, welcome to the universe!
AB: How you doing? Thanks for having me!
SU: Letís start with a moment that youíre unlikely to forget. Youíre lined up deep on kickoff return with Mewelde Moore, he fields a kick and he hands it to you. Literally this is your first NFL play and you return it 89 yards for a touchdown. Just kind of walk us through that moment. What were the feelings?
AB: I mean it was amazing, man. I was coming off a great preseason, and was given the chance to compete in the first game, I was excited about my opportunity to get out there. The special teams coaches and coach Tomlin drew up a great play to start out the game. Mewelde set it up good. With me not being on film in the regular season, they had no idea who I was. We tried that reverse with the first play of the game. My first play everÖ.thankful for the blocking and the great scheme that the coach called.
SU: Whereís the ball at now?
AB: I actually have the ball down in Florida right now. It was my first TD of the regular season, one of my greatest moments of the season.
SU: Not only for you but for a lot of us. As a fan thatís absolutely one of my favorite moments of this past year. That moment as a NFL player scoring your first touchdown is so far removed from your life growing up in Liberty City outside of Miami, tell us a little bit about the obstacles you overcame to get to the NFL.
AB: Well, you know Iíve been to a couple different schoolsÖ.applied to Central Michigan, went to a prep school at North Carolina Tech and from there I went to Central Michigan University. I couldnít have left the city without GodÖ. it was a long journey for a kid seeking to do something positive, and seeking to do the right thing. It was a little difficult as I didnít have the right guidance and the right structure to mold me into the route that I was going but I just had a lot of faith and belief in what I was doing and it was a long journey to get to where Iím at. But I appreciate that Iím here. I worked like my life depended on it.
SU: You know, you actually spent that one prep year at North Carolina Tech, and I want to run through some stats for you here. In 5 games, you ran for 451 yards and 13 touchdowns, you threw for 1,247 yards and 11 touchdowns, you returned 11 punts for touchdowns, and returned 6 kickoffs for touchdowns. Thatís 41 touchdowns in 5 games. How is that even possible?
AB: I mean it was something that was amazing to me. Even to go to prep school, my game really turned to the next level, and I was really competing at a high level. I could feel my bodyÖ. I could feel my body develop, could feel my mind develop and I was able to do some great things on the field. While in prep school I didnít have any school (classes), I just was focused on taking the SATs so my whole focus was on football and studying for the SATS, and I put a lot of energy in it. You can see from the numbers it paid off for me.
SU: Were you heavily recruited coming out of high school?
AB: Yeah, I was definitely recruited but I didnít have a chance to pad my SAT scores so I had to take the prep school and get in more film and study more to become closer to being NCAA eligible.
SU: So what led you to Central Michigan?
AB: Well, coming out of prep school I had likeÖ.West Virginia, Central Michigan recruiting me, but they still werenít offering a scholarship in that I came from a prep school and they thought that I may be a kid, that (due to) some of the numbers (I) would not be as humble. Or maybe moving far away from home I may not be dedicated and focusedÖ.it was just another obstacle for me after leaving prep school. I had to go to Central Michigan as a walk on. As a kid from Liberty City, once again, youíre always put in a position where you gotta fight and survive to make it. I actually earned a scholarship in training camp and did well.
SU: Did they tell you about that wind chill factor in Michigan before you got there?
AB: Definitely, manÖ. they told me it was really freezing. Iíve never really been to the cold or to the snow but I was open for a challenge, you know. I didnít want to go back to Liberty City and I wanted to keep my journey and my dreams alive, soÖ.I just took it as the next step for me to be better and for me to go through something positive.
SU: Letís talk about another play towards the end of the season. Itís a playoff game against the hated Ravens. Itís late in the game, score is tied 24 to 24, itís 3rd and 19. Ben hits you for a 58-yard pass. For those of us who remember that play, not only did you burn the Ravensí Lardarius Webb, but you pinned the ball against your helmet with one hand and went out of bounds at the 5-yard line. For the fans, that is aÖ.thatís one of those ďjump-off-the-couch-and-spill-your-popcornĒ moments. The play secured the win for us. I think it was Mendenhall who punched the ball in a few plays later. Was that bigger than your Tennessee moment?
AB: Definitely, man. I think every moment is great. I donít try to weigh one more than the other, but I think that was a great catch, a great moment, to allow us to go to the Super Bowl. A clutch playoff play, .and I think Iím just thankful, you know, what I meanÖ.Iím just thankful I was able to take advantage of my opportunities. And that I was able to help put my team in a position to go to the Super Bowl.
SU: Every time I ask you about one of these plays you mention your teammates and that just shows me the caliber of player you are, that you are giving credit to everyone on the field and not just yourself.
AB: Well man, itís a team game. Everyone contributes. Itís not just about meÖ. itís other guys along with me that help me out and make me successful. You got guys like Mike Wallace in the lineup, you got Hines Ward, you got Ben as quarterback, you got an amazing offensive line, you got Mendenhall, you got guys doing their job, so when itís time for me to make big plays it just makes it easier to put me in a position to be successful.
SU: You know, with the lockout still in place word is that youíre back in town. Youíre working out with Ben and some of your teammates. Tell us a little bit about who all is participating and what are you doing so that you will be ready when it comes time to play ball.
AB: I mean, all of us are there (and) weíre just doing the same things as we would be doing in OTAs. Just, you know, keeping the plays fresh in our minds, working at them, walking through a couple of plays. Making sure we stand together and stay focused and not forget about what we just finished in February. And what we want to embark on this year.
SU: You and Emmanuel Sanders seem to have a pretty close relationship, but tell us a little bit about that relationship and is there still just a little bit of friendly rivalry between the two of you?
AB: Man, thatís my dude, man. We came into the game together. And weíve been going through the rookie process together and you could say we grew together. Weíre buddies, man. Far, far from the field we really care about each other in general and we want to continue to make sure weíre bettering each other and continue to help our team and develop as young men.
SU: Any of the veteran wide receivers take you under their wing and kind of show you the ropes?
AB: Definitely, man. Hines WardÖ.I sit right there in the meeting room and I always watch shows with him. And you know, when times were rough for me in the season and I wasnít playing, heíd always tell me ďyoung fella, just keep pushing, Godís gotta plan for ya,Ē and you could tell as I continued to listen and continued to better myself as the year went on, it paid off for me.
SU: Antonio, you fought your way out of Liberty City, you fought your way into the pros, you fought your way into dressing for the games and made huge plays. You played in a Super Bowl your rookie year. What motivates Antonio Brown at this point in your career?
AB: I mean, itís always a fight and enough is never enough, and I still havenít reached the top of my game yet. You know, uh, I pride myself on being a great special teams player, and a great receiver, and, uh, Iím just ready to unleash it. Iím ready to get back to work and show what I really can do. Hopefully there are more plays left for me, and there are more things in store for me. I just want to continue to prepare, continue to fight, continue to be ready, and have the opportunity to present it so I can take advantage.
SU: Antonio, I thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. Weíre looking forward to seeing more of you in the future. I just love that fighterís mentality that you have. Just tell everybody before you goÖ.where do Steelers fans need to go for all their Steelers needs?
AB: Steelersuniverse.com, baby!
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