First call: Mike Tomlin rejects the idea of ​​an Antonio Brown reunion with the Steelers;  Marc-Andre Fleury return ‘possible’

First call: Mike Tomlin rejects the idea of ​​an Antonio Brown reunion with the Steelers; Marc-Andre Fleury return ‘possible’

Wednesday’s “first call” has contract updates on some big-name Pittsburgh Penguins. Mike Tomlin rejects talk of Antonio Brown returning to the Steelers. The youth surge continues with the Pirates. And are Steelers fans really going to allow themselves to believe that Rob Gronkowski is retiring?


a lot of pens

Elliotte Friedman from Hockey Night in Canada stopped by the Pat McAfee show to talk a little hockey. Of course, with McAfee’s roots in western Pennsylvania, there were plenty of discussions about Penguins.

• Friedman said Marc-Andre Fleury’s return to Pittsburgh isn’t out of the question. Fleury enters free agency.

“I think there is a possibility that Fleury will return to Pittsburgh. I think it’s possible,” Friedman said. “Last year, Washington was very fond of Fleury. And he would not be moved to the Capitals. Because he was like, ‘Maybe he wants to go back to Pittsburgh.’ And I don’t think he can play for the Capitals.’”

Fleury’s reluctance to play for Washington is not new news. But the inference that an eventual return to Pittsburgh played a role in his thought process at the time might be.

However, Pittsburgh’s ability to pay Fleury enough to return and the presence of Tristan Jarry may make such a reunion impossible.

• Regarding Kris Letang’s contract talks, Friedman said he and the team are “around $1.25 million a year.”

• As for Evgeni Malkin’s pending free agency, Friedman said Malkin’s team and agents could be in line with a three-year term for a new contract. That would line up with Sidney Crosby’s remaining deal. But “the money was not around.”


so much for that

Antonio Brown has expressed his desire to return to Pittsburgh and retire as a Pittsburgh Steeler.

However, even in a ceremonial capacity (as Brown suggested), that seems like a long shot. Especially for the bridges he burned leaving town after the 2018 season.

And as for playing in Pittsburgh one more time, forget it. At least that’s how coach Mike Tomlin put it on “The Pivot” podcast with former Steeler Ryan Clark.

“You all know that is not happening. In terms of putting on a helmet and running out of the tunnel and playing catch and things like that,” Tomlin said. “He moved on and we moved on. We can sit down and cut that off like it’s a realistic conversation. But we know that’s not realistic.”

That said, Tomlin was excited about Brown’s time with the Steelers.

“What I will say about AB is that we had a wonderful nine years,” Tomlin said. “I appreciate those kinds of ways that I can’t explain. I won’t even bother trying to explain it because it seems like I’m defending it in some way, and for me from that point of view, the nature of our relationship and what we all did together doesn’t require a defense. …I don’t think enough is said about that guy’s will. About that guy’s work ethic. About how bravely he played the game.”

Under Tomlin in Pittsburgh, Brown had 837 receptions for 11,207 yards and 74 touchdowns.


Gronk gone forever?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski said he is retiring. I think Steelers fans will believe it when they see it.

Perhaps rather, they’ll believe it when they don’t see him in a Bucs uniform at Heinz Field in Week 6.

Throughout his career, the former Woodland Hills High School player has tortured the Steelers. In seven regular season games against the Steelers, Gronkowski had 41 catches for 685 yards (97.9 per game) and scored 8 touchdowns.

Gronkowski retired before the 2019 season. But he returned in 2020 to rejoin former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Tampa.

Gronk is now 33 years old and announced his retirement on Tuesday along with a lengthy Instagram post.


Keep going

Bligh Madris and Oneil Cruz continue to achieve rarefied airs early in their Pirates call-ups.

Madris homered as part of a 7-1 Pirates victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. He also had three hits in his debut on Monday night. Through research by STATS LLC and Pirates broadcaster Joe Block, Madris is the second Pirates player since 1901 to record at least four total bases in each of his first two career games. Dick Stuart was the other. He did it in 1958.

As for Cruz, he had an RBI single in the third inning. That gives him an RBI in each of his four career games (since the memory of two games last year) for a total of eight.

RBI became an official stat in 1920. Through the Elias Sports Bureau, Cruz is just the fourth player in Pirates history to record at least one RBI in each of four career games and the first since that Cookie Lavagetto set the franchise record with an RBI in five straight games to start his career in 1934.

Tim Benz is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets can be republished. All emails are subject to publication unless otherwise specified.

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