Brown got into a sideline confrontation with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner during Sunday's 42-37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and responded 'Trade me let's find out' to a former Steelers staff member who tweeted Brown wouldn't be the same player without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
"The tweet yesterday was not in reference to anything other than Antonio responding to a person he knows," Brown's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN's Adam Schefter. "It was not directed toward a trade, or wanting to be trading. It was a personal response to a former Steelers employee who insulted him. Any idea he was asking for a trade is not accurate. Secondly, yesterday he had a personal matter. I talked to the team about it. His issue was unrelated to the tweet or his relationship with the team. Third, anything you see between AB and the coaches, AB has an incredible drive to win. He just wants to win. That's all that that is. That's not anything more than him encouraging his coaches and teammates to win. And that's what his entire focus is on. Any notion, any speculation otherwise, can be put to bed. This is a non-story that has been blown out of proportion. We can end this right here and now."
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was set to meet with Brown on Tuesday to discuss his absence and other issues surrounding the All-Pro receiver.
"I'm looking forward to visiting with him today and discussing (the absence) and some other things," Tomlin said during his weekly news conference Tuesday. "I'm not going to get into the details of why he wasn't here or whether or not he was excused. I just assume leave those things in-house. I understand sometimes you have some negativity. We lost a football game. There were some negative exchanges on the sideline. That's frustrating, associated with not playing well and not winning. I understand all that. There are opportunities for us to respond to it, particularly in the early portions of the year, to utilize negative experiences that occur to educate our team at this point in the journey so it becomes a non-factor as we move forward."
Asked if Brown actually wants to be traded, Tomlin chuckled and said, "No."
A team source told ESPN that Brown is fully expected to be in the building for Wednesday's work day.
Brown was not in the locker room or part of the walkthrough Monday, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported Brown didn't show up at all.
His 'Trade me' tweet was his second social media flare-up in as many weeks. On Wednesday, Brown publicly apologized for a tweet threatening ESPN senior writer Jesse Washington about a profile titled 'Antonio Brown is an Instagram All-Pro. But is that the full picture?'
Tomlin said he won't comment directly on player happenings on social media, which features "gray area" and "very little accountability," but he made clear players should be held to a higher standard.
"It's important that we understand our position, the light that shines on us and the responsibility that comes with it," Tomlin said. "It's been a couple of instances now where you've asked me about Antonio regarding some social media-like things, I'll address that and address that very directly with him, but I will leave that between he and I. I won't utilize this forum to address such things. I just don't believe it's appropriate. I believe this forum is a very professional one."
Asked if he's tired of Brown being the same player he's asked about repeatedly regarding social media issues, Tomlin bristled, then pointed to his team's 0-1-1 record heading into a Monday Night Football matchup with the 2-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I'm focused on real legitimate things. Seriously," Tomlin said. "We gave up a few big plays, we're playing a team that's big-play capable. We haven't won a game yet. Those are the real things."
On his weekly radio show Tuesday, Roethlisberger said he doesn't believe Brown wants to be traded but plans to speak to his receiver Wednesday. Tuesday is considered an off day for the team.
Brown and Roethlisberger have connected for an NFL-record five consecutive 100-catch seasons together, and Brown currently leads the NFL with 33 targets, resulting in 18 catches for 160 yards and one touchdown.
But Brown and Roethlisberger appeared to have a miscommunication on a third-and-goal in the final minutes against Kansas City, and Brown walked off the field by himself after Roethlisberger's fourth-down touchdown scramble while the rest of the offense celebrated in the opposite end zone.
"I think it's just frustration," Roethlisberger said. "He's a competitor. He wants to be the best in the world and he probably is. I think he was getting frustrated and he took it out on some people. I give Randy a lot of credit not losing it on him."