Antonio Brown doesn't bother the Steelers or their fans, but he did leave a sense of fear
The departure of AB was the best thing to happen to Pittsburgh since sliced bread - literally. The wide receiver is a cancer to NFL teams and the Oakland Raiders are finding that out more and more each day. But like a crazy ex, Brown left a taste in the city's mouth that's becoming hard to swallow. Just like getting over a bad relationship, you're constantly thinking, "are they all like this?"
JuJu Smith-Schuster isn't Antonio Brown. James Conner isn't Le'Veon Bell. Neither show any signs of having the same personality traits the other did, expect that their beloved in the city of Pittsburgh.
From the jump, Smith-Schuster has been a fun-loving receiver who loves to dance and brings the fans together in any way possible. Some may say that he resembles an earlier Brown in the sense that they both love to have fun on the field.
But that may be their only similarity. Brown was always working hard on the field, and rewardingly playing hard as well. He was never playing off the field, though. AB was not a player to engage with fan events or randomly show up at places in the city and interact with the folks who fill the stands.
On the field, the two can be see as the same - hardworking, entertaining and fun-loving (we're talking old Brown, not new). Off the field, however, the fear that JuJu becomes AB disappears once number 19 shows up at a mall and plays football with kids, or attends children's events.
James Conner shows almost no resemblance to the back he succeeded. Bell was one of the most talkative players in the NFL during his time as a Steeler. Whether it was social media, interviews or meetings, Bell was a player who's voice was heard around the league.
Conner is not.
A hometown hero who's been a part of this city since his days at Pitt. Conner is one of the most humble professional athletes you'll meet, and embraces the challenges he's overcome throughout his life.
At some point, like every other running back in the NFL, he'll deserve a second contract, but the way he's working and the relationships he's building with fans won't make it hard to give him one.
Unlike the receivers in Pittsburgh, Conner doesn't show much of who Le'Veon Bell was. Instead, he's a vocal leader and a humble star. Essentially being the perfect fit for the Steel City and their, "we love a hardworking playmaker" fans.
While the sense of fear sits in the back of our minds it's dimming with time. Bell didn't hurt us much. No one seemed to really care about the rap disses or the sly comments once Conner stepped on the field last preseason.
Brown was different. AB isn't a player the Steelers don't want, he's a player no NFL team wants. As his time in Oakland begins to blur, fans are worried - will this ever happen again?
Not with this group, it won't.