The words of Martavis Bryant yesterday, addressing reporters for the first time since acknowledging his frustration with his role in the Pittsburgh Steelers offense, indicated that he has no intentions of being a further distraction this year, even if everybody knows now he’s not happy.
Whether or not that’s ultimately how it plays out is another matter, and we won’t really begin to see for a few weeks, because Head Coach Mike Tomlin, according to Bryant himself, has elected to bench him for Sunday’s game against the Lions, and the Steelers are on a bye the week after.
It’s worth noting that he is being benched. He is not being suspended, nor is he being fined. Nothing is being taken away from him at this time except for some playing time, and Tomlin has benched players before. Though he was active for the game last year, Eli Rogers was benched. He and others, like Rashard Mendenhall, have responded well to the tactic.
How Bryant responds is mostly up to him. The quarterback, and the play-calling, obviously has its role here. But the manner in which he conducts himself is all his own from this point forward. He seemed to feel that he needed to express his frustration, and said that he doesn’t regret what’s happened.
But now he has said what he needed to say and is ready to accept the consequences. He was making plays against the Steelers’ first-team defense yesterday on the scout team, playing angry. He needs to bring that with him on Sundays and make the most of his opportunities.
While he implied that he wants to be elsewhere if he’s not going to see a bigger role, he did tell Will Graves among others yesterday, “If I’m not traded, I’m going to work my butt off here and whatever happens, happens. You’re not going to hear me complain or nothing no more, I’m just going to be quiet and let everything fall in place”.
The day before, he told Josina Anderson that he had not really spoken of his frustrations with anybody except Richard Mann, the wide receivers coach, so some of this was new even to his teammates and coaches. He hasn’t been blowing up on the sidelines and attacking inanimate objects. Just stewing to himself.
He said his plan following the bye week is to “just try to come back and finish up strong”, which is exactly what he should do. “That’s all I can focus on right now. What’s been done is done”.
I would really love to believe that Bryant means what he says and that he has the willpower and emotional maturity to follow it through.
I would really love to believe that this is just something that he needed to express and to attempt to address with his teammates and coaches after bottling it up and letting it fester, and that he can now accept whatever happens at this point on.
It will be up to him to back up his words with deeds.