Antonio Brown has had quite the week. After the Steelers' thrilling 40–17 win over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football, where Brown caught 10 receptions for 144 yards and three touchdowns—including an insane one-handed helmet grab that will go down as one of the year's best catches—the Steelers wide receiver was named the AFC offensive player of the week.
Brown has now crossed the 1000-yard receiving threshold in the first ten weeks of the season for the third time, one away from Jerry Rice's NFL record. At just 29-years-old, there's no reason to believe Brown can't accomplish the same feat next season and even the year after that.
Behind Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers have jumped out to an 8-2 record and the AFC's No. 1 seed.
Brown spoke to us on behalf of Campbell's "Chunky Maxx" soup, where he is a spokesman for its "We'll Fill In, While You Fill Up" campaign to celebrate the everyday guy and his everyday hustle. (While in Los Angeles over the summer, Brown enjoyed a day on the set, shooting a commercial where he filled in for the average guy in a sticky situation.) The not-so-average wide receiver discussed his The Catch, JuJu Smith-Schuster's bike saga, Julio Jones, and his love for the NFL's new celebration rules.
(Editor's note: This interview has been lightly edited and condensed).
Nihal Kolur: So let's start with what everyone's talking about. Tell me about that catch.
Antonio Brown: It's something I practice all the time and I had a chance to make it come alive. I was just kind of in the moment and Ben put it on the spot. Ben's been throwing the ball really well, and he put the ball in a position where only I could get it. It's been a pleasure and honor to play with him.
NK: Speaking of Ben, with his career coming to an end in the not-so-distant future, what are you going to miss the most about playing with him?
AB: Anytime you can play with guys like Ben you know you'll have the opportunity to put up points and win games, which is the most important thing. I don't think he's had a losing season as a Steeler. (*Eds Note: He has not; the Steelers have only missed the playoffs four times since Roethlisberger joined in 2004; three of those seasons they finished 8–8 and one they finished 9–7*). Playing with him you know you can make the playoffs every year and that's all you can ask for from your quarterback.
NK: Tell me a little bit about the season so far. It's been a bit of a rollercoaster with the Martavis Bryant issue (the receiver is unhappy with his involvement in the offense)and Roethlisberger's comments on it ("come talk to your quarterback", Roethlisberger said.) How has that affected you guys?
AB: It's a long season so we know there will be distractions and emotions throughout, but we just embrace our teammates and we know they can be their best selves. We've been here before so we know we got to continue to get better and take care of business heading to the playoffs.
NK: On the topic of the playoffs, it seems like it's going to be a two-man race between you and those Patriots again. How do you feel about those guys up in New England?
AB: We're focused on ourselves and winning our games and handling our business. We'll let the chips fall in place. When we play them [on December 17], we'll be ready. It's going to be a fun and exciting game for sure, but we can't be focused on what they're doing.
NK: Spoken like a true professional. I've noticed you're one of the more active NFL stars on Twitter, engaging with your fans pretty often. Why do you do that?
AB: It's always great to engage with people. You never know who you can make an effect on. And I love interacting with the fans, hearing what they have to say and joking around with them. Anytime I can reach out online and give encouragement, motivate people, be a better citizen, that's what it's all about, man.
NK: So when JuJu [Smith-Schuster] lost his bike, you were all over it.
AB: [Laughs]. Juju is a cool young kid, man. A rookie and exciting player who has helped our team. He was riding his bike, made a rookie mistake and left his bike outside. Luckily I was able to tweet and get attention and I got the person who returned it two free tickets. And now Juju got his license, he's doing well and I think he's going to get a new car.
NK:So the NFL has started to allow group celebrations this year, something you were a strong advocate for in the past. Which one has been the best?
AB: I think the potato sack race by those guys over in Kansas City was pretty great. And the relay race by the Texans. Also, ours on Thursday when I helped Juju workout. It's a lot of fun, man. Allowing guys to celebrate and get the fans involved and excited, it makes the game better.
NK: You often hear you and Julio Jones mentioned as the top two wide receivers in football. How do you think you guys stack up?
AB: I think we’re the best in the world at what we do. We do a lot of great things but it’s a competitive league. A lot of great guys around us do the work and help us elevate our game and that’s what makes the NFL so special. We have a lot of competitive players who are the best in the world at what they do and they all compete against each other.
NK:Who's the best cornerback you've faced?
AB: All of them. All of them try to give me their best matchup. Every weekend I'm gonna get the best guy they got. And usually, it's not just one player; they have the safety on top as well. So to me, the top corners are the ones that can go out their and get the job done and earn their money by themselves, without help over the top.
NK: But they can't do that against you.
AB: [Laughs] Exactly.