PITTSBURGH — Antonio Brown didn’t want to leave Pittsburgh without saying goodbye.
Brown purchased electronic billboard spots in downtown Pittsburgh with the message “Thank You Pittsburgh, AB 84” with Brown’s signature and a picture of the All-Pro receiver.
Antonio Brown said the opportunity to play for Raiders coach Jon Gruden was a factor in his decision to work out a trade to Oakland. Brown said he aims to hold his teammates to a high standard and a personal goal is to pass Jerry Rice’s receptions record.
Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders after nine seasons with the Steelers. The matching billboards on the corner of Boulevard of the Allies and Grant Street were ordered by Brown himself and posted Thursday.
Brown’s introductory news conference in Oakland on Wednesday ended a bizarre two-plus months between Brown and the Steelers, who received a third- and a fifth-round pick in exchange for Brown. Brown frustrated the organization by skipping work in Week 17, which sparked the team’s interest in trading him.
Antonio Brown bought billboards, which went up Thursday, in Pittsburgh to thank Steelers fans. Jeremy Fowler/ESPN
But Brown requested a trade in late January and later disparaged the organization on social media and in an interview with ESPN’s Jeff Darlington. His bizarre behavior on social media coupled with his demand for a new contract made trading him for significant draft capital difficult.
But Brown used his Oakland news conference to express gratitude for his time in Pittsburgh.
“To any kid out there from Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh will always be my family,” Brown said. “Those guys gave me a chance when I was a 21-year-old kid. Obviously, people are listening to the things that are being said and written. At the end of the day, it’s all about how you make people feel. I think I made people feel good and great, really inspired, the way they watched me work, the way they watched me play. I know Steeler Nation is having a bad day today, but it’s always love. I encourage every kid who watched me work and was inspired by everything I’ve done. I hope I continue to be a good example, continue to be a good role model and continue to inspire people.”
Brown recorded an NFL-record six consecutive 100-catch seasons with the Steelers.