Steelers’ Brown and distractions


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In this photo from Dec. 30, 2018, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown stands on the sideline before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says he's disappointed in the behavior of star wide receiver Antonio Brown but added the team has not received any formal trade request from Brown's camp. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

In this photo from Dec. 30, 2018, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown stands on the sideline before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says he's disappointed in the behavior of star wide receiver Antonio Brown but added the team has not received any formal trade request from Brown's camp. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown stands along the sideline in street clothes before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


In this photo from Dec. 30, 2018, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown stands on the sideline before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says he's disappointed in the behavior of star wide receiver Antonio Brown but added the team has not received any formal trade request from Brown's camp.(AP Photo/Don Wright)


Brown out? Tomlin frustrated with star receiver’s antics

By WILL GRAVES

AP Sports Writer

Thursday, January 3

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Tomlin doesn’t want to say Antonio Brown bailed on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The longtime head coach is not ruling it out either.

The star wide receiver went radio silent in the days before the team’s regular-season finale against Cincinnati last Sunday, in essence abandoning the club in what Tomlin described as its “darkest hour.”

Though Brown did make a cameo appearance on the sideline — rocking a fur coat — as the Steelers edged the Bengals, he vanished before the final gun and did not show up on Monday for exit interviews and to clear out his locker.

Tomlin said Brown arrived at practice last Wednesday reporting discomfort in his lower body. The team gave Brown the day off, did so again on Thursday. On Friday, Tomlin sent Brown home to rest and suggested he get an MRI on the banged up knee.

Tomlin did not hear from Brown on Saturday to get an update. When Drew Rosenhaus, Brown’s agent, reached out on Sunday morning to tell Tomlin that Brown was available to play, Tomlin “drew a line in the sand” and said Brown could best serve the Steelers by cheering on the sideline.

While Tomlin demurred when asked during his season-ending news conference on Wednesday if Brown “quit,” the longtime head coach offered little in defense of the perennial Pro Bowler, whose historic production has become increasingly at odds with his erratic off-the-field behavior.

“The bottom line is we were playing a significant game and he didn’t do a good enough job of communicating of being available in the hours leading up to that performance,” Tomlin said.

“So we needed to make decisions pertinent to getting to play in that performance. So, I’ve been real clear at outlining what transpired, the level of communication, things of that nature. Obviously there are some things within that that you can infer, certainly.”

Rather than spend time elaborating on how the Steelers went from 7-2-1 the week before Thanksgiving to 9-6-1 and missing the postseason for the first time since 2013 — a collapse Tomlin plans to “wallow” in over the next few weeks — he spent the majority of his time responding to questions about Brown.

It’s nothing new. The 30-year-old is the only player in NFL history with six straight 100-catch seasons, but has become adept at drawing headlines for things that have nothing to do with football, be it livestreaming from the postgame locker room in Kansas City two years ago to threatening a reporter from ESPN on social media in September to suggesting on Twitter he should be traded.

It hasn’t stopped. As Tomlin spoke, Brown — who has three years remaining on his four-year, $72 million extension he signed in the spring of 2017 — published a post on Instagram to his 3.1 million followers saying “I am divinely blessed with free will. I utilize that gift, choosing to take charge of my life.” Brown also appeared with former teammate James Harrison, who promised an exclusive “interview” with Brown.

Tomlin has long had a policy of trying to tune out what his players say or do on social media, but admitted there’s a level of “disappointment” when it comes to Brown’s actions before adding it’s immaterial to his job.

Asked if there’s a point with Brown or any player where the distractions can outweigh the on-the-field benefits, Tomlin said “certainly.”

Whether the Steelers are at that point is unclear. Tomlin said the team has not received any “formal” trade requests from Brown’s camp.

Tomlin declined to get into what punishment Brown may face in the future, saying the club is still gathering information. Tomlin does believe that Brown was dealing with some type of injury, but added to his knowledge that Brown has not undergone the MRI.

“Like we do in all circumstances, we will deal with it appropriately and deal with it in-house,” Tomlin said.

Brown’s future status is just one of a number of questions the Steelers will face over the next few months, starting with the coaching staff. The defense and special teams both had critical missteps this season and offensive line coach Mike Munchak is in the mix for several open head coaching positions.

“When you lack success, when you fail, change is a part of it,” Tomlin said. “We talk about it. As a staff we talk about it. As players, in exit meetings. That’s just our business.”

So lately, has been addressing the perpetual drama surrounding one of the NFL’s most talented and mercurial players.

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

The Conversation

Tolerating distraction

January 19, 2018

Should we be more patient with those we view as distracted?

Author: David Marno, Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley

Disclosure statement: David Marno received funding from the Hellman Foundation and the Andrew D. Mellon Foundation.

Partners: University of California provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

A constant complaint in our unpredictable world is that we live in an age of distraction.

I am quick to label students who stare at their phones in my class distracted; politicians dismiss inconvenient questions by calling them a distraction; and when we find distraction in ourselves, we blame it on technology. In other words, we think of attention as a rare and valuable commodity, and we assume that distraction is a problem with an identifiable cause.

Consider for a moment, what would a medieval monk or a 17th-century preacher make of our complaints about modern distraction?

I argue, they would, in all likelihood, find them strange. To be sure, they too felt distracted, all the time. But, as my research on premodern Christianity shows, they thought of distraction as the human condition itself. Above all, they maintained a remarkably patient attitude toward it.

Are attention and distraction similar?

I offer an account of this Christian prehistory of attention and distraction in my book, “Death Be Not Proud: The Art of Holy Attention.” Although I wrote the book as a Renaissance scholar, while working on it I was constantly reminded of the topic’s relevance in contemporary life. What has intrigued me most then and now is the cultural values we associate with distraction and attention.

The dichotomy between good attention and bad distraction is so fundamental that it is written into the very language we use to talk about attending. Consider the phrase “I pay attention.” It implies that attention is valuable, a type of currency we deliberately and consciously invest in. When I pay attention, I am in control of my action, and I am aware of its value.

Now compare this with the phrase “I am distracted.” Suddenly we are dealing with a passive and vulnerable subject who suffers an experience without doing much to contribute to it.

But there are reasons to question this dichotomy. Students who are “distracted” by their phones could just as well be described as paying attention to their Facebook feed; the question that the politician dismisses as a distraction probably calls attention to a matter that actually deserves it.

In other words, it is reasonable to ask whether attention and distraction are simply two morally and culturally charged terms referring to what in reality is the same behavior. We label this behavior distraction when we disapprove of its objects and objectives; and we call it attention when we approve of them.

One would expect this moralizing discourse of attention and distraction to be especially prevalent in Christianity. In popular imagination, medieval monks shut out the outside world, and Reformation preachers have issued stern warnings to their congregation to resist the distractions of life.

But while it is true that historical Christianity took distraction seriously, it also had a nuanced and often remarkably tolerant attitude toward it.

Early views toward distraction

Consider the following passage from the English poet and preacher John Donne’s 17th-century sermon:

“I am not all here, I am here now preaching upon this text, and I am at home in my Library considering whether S[aint] Gregory, or S[aint] Hierome, have said best of this text, before. I am here speaking to you, and yet I consider by the way, in the same instant, what it is likely you will say to one another, when I have done. You are not all here neither; you are here now, hearing me, and yet you are thinking that you have heard a better Sermon somewhere else, of this text before.”

Donne was known to his contemporaries as a masterful speaker, and this passage shows why: In just a few sentences, he calls his congregation’s attention to their distractedness and admits that even he, the preacher is only partly focused on the here and the now. In other words, Donne uses the distraction he shares with his audience to forge both a community and a moment of attentiveness.

Its rhetorical flair aside, Donne’s sermon expresses an old and fairly orthodox Christian view about distraction’s ubiquity. The most influential early exponent of this view is St. Augustine, one of the Church Fathers of Western Christianity. In his autobiographical work, “The Confessions,” Augustine observes that every time we pay attention to one thing, we are distracted from infinitely many other things.

This simple observation has far-reaching implications.

First, Augustine sees attention and distraction as merely different aspects of the same action. But instead of moralizing these aspects, he finds the inevitability of distraction to be a fundamental feature of the human condition, that is, the very thing that distinguishes us from God.

Augustine’s God is not only omniscient and omnipotent but also omni-attentive – not a term that Augustine uses, but he describes God as being able to attend to all things in both time and space simultaneously.

This is a complicated claim, but for now it is enough for us to see its consequences: Human creatures may aspire to be God-like in their acts of attention, but every such act produces more evidence that they are in fact humans – which in turn will make them appreciate attention even more.

What is the relevance of distraction?

The modern anxiety about distraction betrays a good deal about us. Insofar as we associate attention with power and control, it reflects our fears of losing both in an increasingly unpredictable cultural and natural climate. We also find ourselves living in an economy where we pay for cultural goods with our attention, so it makes sense that we worry about running out of a precious currency.

It is then intriguing to see how historical Christian views about attention and distraction both foreshadow some of these anxieties and counter them. For Augustine and his followers, attention was a rare and valuable experience, perhaps even more than for us since they associated it with the divine.

One might expect that as a result they should have simply dismissed distraction. The fact that they didn’t is what gives their thoughts continuing relevance today.

Comments

Arne Stokstad: “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.” — Blaise Pascal

Jay Payleitner, logged in via Facebook: The difference between attention and distraction is the idea of choosing a priority. First, decide your priority – God, money, family, sex, fame, friends. Anything that diverts your attention from that priority is a distraction. Anything that feeds or informs your priority is not a distraction.

In this photo from Dec. 30, 2018, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown stands on the sideline before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says he’s disappointed in the behavior of star wide receiver Antonio Brown but added the team has not received any formal trade request from Brown’s camp. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/01/web1_122064768-a129c6e26a5b4de7aef06b95d698097b.jpgIn this photo from Dec. 30, 2018, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown stands on the sideline before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says he’s disappointed in the behavior of star wide receiver Antonio Brown but added the team has not received any formal trade request from Brown’s camp. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown stands along the sideline in street clothes before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/01/web1_122064768-70fe2be97bfe49b28ec024ee8b86ef53.jpgPittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown stands along the sideline in street clothes before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

In this photo from Dec. 30, 2018, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown stands on the sideline before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says he’s disappointed in the behavior of star wide receiver Antonio Brown but added the team has not received any formal trade request from Brown’s camp.(AP Photo/Don Wright)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/01/web1_122064768-1fd0e73cb4564ef08497bafcaff180b8.jpgIn this photo from Dec. 30, 2018, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown stands on the sideline before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says he’s disappointed in the behavior of star wide receiver Antonio Brown but added the team has not received any formal trade request from Brown’s camp.(AP Photo/Don Wright)
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