<
>

Meet Antonio Brown: Cookie-baking dad, difficult Waffle House customer

PITTSBURGH -- Antonio Brown just posted one of the five best receiving seasons of all time, and he's setting his sights on his first postseason touchdown catch in the Pittsburgh Steelers' AFC wild-card game Saturday at Cincinnati.

Before then, he'll probably do some baking with his kids or quiz waiters about the quality of meats in a restaurant kitchen.

Brown is a colorful personality on the field, but he's working with bright, unwashable Crayola markers off it.

Here are five things you might not know about Brown as he enters the biggest game of his life.

He has the names of his kids inside his gloves: About 30 pairs of yellow-and-black Nike gloves are stuffed inside a small cubbyhole at the top of Brown's locker. Each game, he opens a new, fresh pair. After the game, they go in the hole.

Each pair ties Brown to his children. He asked Nike to place the names of his kids inside the gloves, showing an example of Antonio Jr. in black letters in the palm area of the glove.

"They exemplify great hands and always inspire from within," Brown said.

He also loves to bake with his kids: At least once every few weeks, Brown organizes a chocolate-chip-cookie session with the family.

And Brown takes the lead.

“Just slice them up and put them in the oven and preheat, ready to go," Brown said. "It’s pretty easy.”

Big Ben is pushing marriage: Brown and his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, usually talk football -- route concepts, timing, what they'll see from defenses. But Roethlisberger, a husband and father of two, is nudging Brown to run a post route to the altar.

"Off the field, he's always pushing the marriage card on me, wondering when my date is coming," Brown said. "We have a great relationship. He makes jokes about my kids. My girlfriend and his wife are pretty cool. On marriage, I tell him, 'Not too fast, I've got to grow into it.'"

The Waffle House incident: Brown is known by his teammates as a "clean" eater (organic foods, for starters). Waffle House is probably not the place for that. But Brown recently joined a few Steelers wide receivers at the restaurant chain, and he quizzed the waiters about where they got their chicken.

"He's asking, 'Where did it come from? Is it organic?'" receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said. "The people at Waffle House were calling people, calling their bosses to find out where the chicken came from. He ate the chicken, so it must have been good enough for him. He wasn’t going to eat it until they gave him an answer, though."

Brown laughed when asked about the incident, saying Waffle House proved to him the meat was "satisfactory."

"You've got to eat clean. I've got to keep a clean diet. You get out what you put in," Brown said. "I make sure I put in top fuel to make sure I perform at the highest level."

His locker mementos are all about inspiration: Two areas of Brown's locker showcase different sides to the star receiver. To Brown's left hangs a portrait of a smiling Brown in uniform with the acronym C.U.E.U.P.U. (Chest Up, Eyes Up, Prayed Up, which Brown has made into a slogan and a website).

On his right hangs a white piece of paper with the Bible verses 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 on it. Former Steelers receiver Antwaan Randle El gave him the verses during Brown's rookie year in 2010.

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone else is running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air."

Asked the significance, Brown simply says, "Run with a purpose."