PITTSBURGH -- A messy divorce between wide receiver Antonio Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers has caused one of the league's most prideful locker rooms to self-evaluate.
"It’s opened my eyes on how we’re supposed to go about each other on the team," Foster told Sirius XM NFL Radio this weekend about the drama surrounding the team. "If a guy has an issue with someone, that’s always good to be able to be transparent. That’s one of the things we've learned from it too. Sometimes you have your head down so much during the grind of the season that if you’re locked in personally, you don’t realize the fluff that’s around you."
If star power isn't everything, the Steelers will hope that a new mantra plays out in 2019 as they regroup without two of the game's best playmakers.
As running back Le'Veon Bell, who refused to play under the franchise tag last season and is now a free agent, and Brown leave Pittsburgh, Steelers fans are left to wonder what could have been.
Teamed with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the Killer B's created the kind of buzz reserved for the great trios. Perhaps a Super Bowl pedigree would have elevated the group to the likes of Troy Aikman-Emmitt Smith-Michael Irvin or Jim Kelly-Thurman Thomas-Andre Reed. With this group in the offense, the Steelers became the first team since the NFL merger to have three different teammates rank in the top two in the league in passing, rushing and receiving yardage.
Those numbers didn't result in on-field glory. The group had one AFC title game appearance together following the 2016 regular season, which was compromised when Bell got hurt at New England.
And now Brown's trade to the Raiders has left fractured relationships with Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin in his wake.
Foster believes the issues with Bell and Brown are anomalies and might just bring the team closer -- in friendship and to shedding labels.
"Nobody wants to be labeled as the football version of the Kardashians," Foster told Sirius XM. "If that doesn’t piss you off, I don’t know what will. The leadership has never been a question for me. Whether guys have been opposed to what a coach may think, what a position coach or head coach, that’s solely on them, and if you’re not man enough to say something about that, that should tell us a lot about your character."
The Steelers want to emphasize the character in 2019.
When reached Sunday, several current Steelers wished Brown well and considered him a beloved ex-teammate. His relationship with teammates largely wasn't an issue. He could be compassionate and welcoming, which, when coupled with his unmatched work ethic, made him a favorite in the locker room.
But as one Steelers starter pointed out, the Steelers faced a plight: Trade Brown and he wins; don't trade him and the team will feel regret if the season doesn't work out.
"And we feel like we can win here," the starter said.