Steelers Antonio Brown: Anatomy of a fighter


The NFL is full of athletic freaks of nature.  There are players entering the league every season who are monsters compared to the hall of fame heroes of yester year.  But to make it in the NFL, it takes more than a 4.3 forty yard dash, more than 30 reps on the bench-press, more than any combination of size, shape, strength, and speed.

Sure, there are those players who are physically able to do more than we mortal men who watch the game from our couches, but there are equally physical specimens that wash out of the NFL year in and year out.  So, what is the determining factor that separates the successful from the “also ran’s”?


…..Enter Antonio Brown.

In a league that values height he measures in at only 5 feet 10 inches.  Once so thin that he earned the moniker “Boney Tony”.  A 6th round pick from little known Central Michigan, he was the second wide receiver picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2010 draft.  Almost an afterthought for a team that envisioned third round pick Emmanuel Sanders as the receiver playing behind the great Hines Ward and speedster Mike Wallace.

Fast forward five years.  Antonio Brown is now the best wide receiver in the game.  That’s right.  The best.  Any argument to the contrary is just the simple inability to notice greatness when it stands before you.

Look past the good-natured smile.  Look beyond his charitable endeavors.  Stare deeper into the eyes of a self-proclaimed man of faith and you see what makes talented players into great players.

Antonio is a fighter.

Raised in the rough and economically strapped section of Miami called Liberty City,  he was virtually homeless during his senior year of high school.  Without a proper support system, his grades suffered and he wasn’t eligible to play college ball.  He spent a year at a prep school, to prepare himself for college.  It was during this time that Antonio says his body and mind started to develop and he started to put real energy into passing his SAT’s and in pursuing a path that could get him out of the old neighborhood.

“It’s always a fight.  Enough is never enough.  It’s about preparation.  It’s about taking advantage of the opportunities that God gives….Man, it’s all about the fight.”  – Antonio Brown

He translated that drive into action by leaving sunny southern Florida for the frigid climate of Central Michigan.  As a walk on freshman he was asked to change positions, from quarterback to wide receiver, and surprisingly was not only offered  a scholarship but was eventually named the Mid American Conference Freshman of the Year.  His meteoric rise from  college walk on, to 6th round draft pick, to being a premier NFL wide receiver can be somewhat explained by his incredibly athleticism, but it is so much more than that.

Through his performance we see the result of extra hours spent in the weight room.  We witness why its important to study tape.  We understand why he spends time honing his route running skills.

After an interview a few years ago, I asked him what drives him.  He said,

"“It’s always a fight.  Enough is never enough.  It’s about preparation.  It’s about taking advantage of the opportunities that God gives me and facing it like a man.  Its putting in the time, the work, the studying.  Otherwise you will never know what you are capable of.  Man, it’s all about the fight.” – Antonio Brown"

True warriors push themselves harder than any coach, mentor, or teammate can ever do.  In Antonio Brown you see this lived out every week that he dons the black and gold jersey.

A player who doesn’t love the game because he is great at it, but rather is great at the game because he loves it.  A  man enjoying the spoils of success but not spoiled by his success.

Antonio Brown is a best wide receiver in the NFL because he pushes…he challenges…himself.

Next: Steelers Training Camp Injury List

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