Pittsburgh Steelers four-time All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown reportedly missed Sunday's must-win 2018 season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals because he elected to sit out practice last week after getting into a heated dispute with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, according to Gerry Dulac and Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Brown had been listed as questionable on the injury report, with head coach Mike Tomlin saying Friday that Brown was having his knee tested because he "didn't feel comfortable enough (to practice)." Sources said the knee wasn't an issue at all and that Brown never received tests.
The sequence of events apparently began when Brown threw a football at Roethlisberger during Wednesday morning's walk-through practice. He subsequently sat out the rest of the week's practices by his own decision.
ESPN's Jeremey Fowler reports Roethlisberger was involved in the incident but was not the target of the thrown football. The dispute was over a walkthrough play, sources told Fowler's colleague Adam Schefter, who added that after Brown left the session, he talked with his quarterback and admitted to feeling underappreciated by people within the organization.
After he skipped Saturday's walk-through and Saturday night's team meeting, Brown apparently arrived at Heinz Field expecting to play in Sunday's game in a move that surprised several players.
The 30-year-old wasn't on the field for the start of the game and reportedly left Heinz Field at halftime.
An unnamed player on the team called the situation "embarrassing" and "the worst I've seen."
The Steelers managed to pull out a 16-13 win to keep their playoff hopes alive until the Baltimore Ravens claimed the AFC North title with a victory over the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts beat the Tennessee Titans for the final wild-card spot.
Brown ended the season with 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and a league-high 15 touchdowns through the air over 15 games.