PITTSBURGH – It seems no matter where you turn these days, Antonio Brown is there, be it TV, radio or in print.
The Steelers’ All-Pro wide receiver has spent the offseason participating on “Dancing With the Stars,” bouncing back and forth between Los Angeles and Pittsburgh for his frenetic workouts and participating in his team’s offseason workouts.
At 2 p.m., June 11, he’ll add something else to his busy schedule when he’ll take part in the Antonio Brown & Friends Softball Game at Consol Energy Park. Proceeds from the game will benefit the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation.
“I know how important kids are,” Brown said Wednesday at a news conference at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. “I have four of my own. Anything I can do to make a positive impact on kids, I’m all for it, especially in the city of Pittsburgh. I want to be a contributor off the field and in the community. It starts right here with the Children’s Hospital Foundation. This celebrity softball game is going to be an opportunity to bring a lot of my friends out, a lot of my teammates, and do something positive, not only for us together, but for the city of Pittsburgh.”
The game originally was scheduled to take place May 14 but was moved back to better take advantage of the NFL’s mini-camp schedules.
Brown also should be finished with his time on “Dancing With the Stars,” where he has reached the quarterfinals.
Several teammates, including running back Le’Veon Bell and center Maurkice Pouncey, are expected to play. Brown mentioned the possibility of bringing in other NFL stars such as 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback.
One player who won’t be there, however, will be Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant.
Bryant was suspended for the 2016 season for violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. It marks his second suspension for violation of the drug policy. He also had to sit out the first four games of the 2015 season.
Brown had taken the third-year receiver under his wing as a rookie two years ago.
“I haven’t really had a chance to talk to him. I’m really upset and disappointed about the situation,” said Brown. “I’m praying for him. He knows how I feel about him. We’re not turning our back on him. But it’s kind of disheartening when you have a teammate and you really need him out there and you want him to do the right things.
“But we’ve got to look in the mirror as men, look out for ourselves and grow up. I think this is a year in which he’ll grow up.”
Brown got a taste of having to sit and watch a game himself. He missed the Steelers’ playoff loss at Denver in January after suffering a concussion in the team’s opening-round win at Cincinnati from a hit by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
Burfict drew a three-game suspension for the hit, one of several for which he was fined last season, but it didn’t make things any easier for Brown, who did not clear the NFL’s concussion protocol until the week after the Denver game.
“I think the way I ended the season provided a lot of motivation coming into this season. I’m really excited about the opportunity to go out and play football,” he said. “You never know how much you appreciate it until you’re not able to go out there and play. Not to be out there in a playoff game definitely is disheartening and humbling. It added a little bit more motivation this year.”
One thing Brown will be especially motivated to do is put on a good show for fans at his softball game.
He wants to make the game an annual event to help raise money for Children’s Hospital.
“I want to try to get as many people as I can,” he said. “I reaching out to every guy on my phone.
“We want to make it a good event so that we can make a difference for the kids.”
To purchase tickets for the game, visit the the ticket office at Consol Energy Park, call 724-250-9555 or visit https://www.ticketreturn.com/prod2/team.asp?sponsorid=8768#.VypzCYQrK01.