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JuJu Smith-Schuster Winning 2018 Team MVP Also Led To Antonio Brown’s Trade Request

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After citing the Pittsburgh Steelers’ lack of success as one reason why former WR Antonio Brown asked for a trade from the team, the 2018 team MVP vote also played a role. In an interview with the popular YouTuber VLAD, Brown says WR JuJu Smith-Schuster winning MVP that year told him the team was trying to build up his replacement.

“At that time in 2018, I think I had 15 touchdowns, leading the NFL, 100-something catches, 1,200, 1,300 yards,” Brown said. “Then we had another young receiver. And you know the NFL is all about, even the Steelers now they’ve got two receivers they pit against each other. I think they gave the kid MVP over me. But I already had three or four of them.

“But for me, in my mind, MVP is the Most Valuable Player. That goes out there and puts his soul on the line, heart on the line and help the team win. In my mind, that’s how I looked at it. And those guys were looking at it. We’re trying to build up another player to try and be who I am. And in the midst of that, I was like, we’re never going to win with that type of energy. So I’m going to request [a trade] and test the market and do what’s best for me.”

While Brown never explicitly mentions his name, it’s clear to whom who he’s referring. The 2018 season was Smith-Schuster’s second in the NFL, and he enjoyed breakout campaign, finishing with 111 receptions for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns. He accounted for more receptions and yards than Brown, who finished with 104 and 1,297, though Brown’s 15 touchdowns more than doubled Smith-Schuster’s mark.

Team MVP is voted by the players and it’s not clear how close the race was. But Smith-Schuster beat out Brown to win the award, evidently one of the final straws that told Brown his time in Pittsburgh was over. Days later, Brown got into an argument with teammates, skipped practices, and was benched for the regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals, leaving the game at halftime. He wouldn’t play another down for the team, traded to the Raiders in the offseason. He’d never play for the Raiders, either.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard Antonio Brown’s displeasure with Smith-Schuster’s MVP vote, it serving as a catalyst to his downfall in Pittsburgh. It was rumored and reported in early 2019. Brown’s comments now confirm how he was feeling. Ultimately, Smith-Schuster stayed in Pittsburgh but turned into a possession receiver instead of a playmaker while the rest of Brown’s career was a roller coaster ride. Neither were ever able to capture the success of that season again.

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