"Never quarrel with a man who buys ink by the barrel," might be an anachronistic phrase from back when print media was still flourishing, but the often misquoted maxim might have saved Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown an apology.
Despite being one the NFL's best yappers, Brown's history with the media hasn't always been smooth, and that continued when ESPN senior writer Jesse Washington penned a piece for The Undefeated entitled "Antonio Brown is an Instagram All-Pro. But is that the full picture?" It dropped on Friday, and Brown tweeted, then deleted, a response to the author saying, "@jessewashington wait to I see you bro we gone see what your jaw like."
Washington took a screen capture of the offending tweet before Brown realized it's probably not a smart idea to threaten throwing hands with a reporter (unless he's thinking of running for office). It's not a good idea to threaten anyone with violence when you're a public figure (or anyone — the Geto Boys know what we're saying), and Brown issued a mea culpa on Wednesday, by way of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"I made a mistake in judgment with my tweet last week, and I apologize for that. It is not OK to threaten anyone and I need to be better spiritually and professionally. Though I do not agree with the negative parts of the story about my personal life, I need to have better control over my actions to use social media as a way to engage with my fans, rather than use it improperly."
It would have been easy for Washington to play up the sympathy card and squeeze the threatening tweet for all it was worth, decrying the lack of honor among today's pro athletes. But Jesse's a thinking veteran sportswriting who doesn't feel the need to extoll his own importance by exploiting a social media snafu. Jesse accepted the apology with grace and understanding, before adding a quip about Pittsburgh's division rivals (reporters, they're just like fans!).
"I understand that things happen in emotional moments," Washington said. "I don't hold it against him at all. I absolutely did not set out to do a negative story. I just wanted to write about who he was off the field like I've done dozens of times in my career. Over the course of the reporting, all of this stuff about his personal life emerged, and it was the first time I had heard about any of it."
AB and the Steelers face the Chiefs this Sunday at 1 pm ET after tying the Browns in Week 1.