The Pittsburgh Steelers recently advanced to the AFC Championship Game where they lost to New England. If you looked at social media during the game, after the game and in the days since, you’d think that if the Steelers had had Martavis Bryant playing it would have been an easy victory. While offense was certainly a problem, unless Martavis Bryant was going to be in the secondary his presence likely wouldn’t have made a difference.
But don’t tell that to many Steelers’ fans who believe the pending return of Bryant is on par with Jesus Christ himself.
Nobody wants Bryant to come back and be more successful than I do but how much can we truly rely on him? Sure, right now he’s saying and doing all of the right things as he finishes his year-long suspension. But what happens when he returns to Pittsburgh?
Has Bryant matured enough to put himself in better environments when he’s away from the team? Has he been able to kick the marijuana habit which led him to this position? Can he be honest with his teammates?
This general assumption by fans that his return will just magically transform the Steelers into the greatest show on Earth is justified to a point. Bryant is an athletic freak. He makes plays very, very few guys in the NFL can and he opens things up for Antonio Brown on the other side. The on-field expectations aren’t the problem though.
I get the feeling that fans aren’t even considering that Bryant will need to re-build his life in Pittsburgh when he returns. He will need a support system similar to what he’s had in Nevada and that’s not necessarily a slam dunk. The negative forces that enticed Bryant aren’t going to disappear. He will have to make them disappear and it won’t be easy.
My hope for Martavis Bryant in 2017 is that he succeeds off the field first and on the field second. I’m not assuming a damn thing when it comes to Bryant because I’ve seen this before. I will hope for the best and deal with whatever happens but I do know this; let’s stop expecting the sky and moon from Bryant. Let him get his feet underneath him first.