Antonio Brown is coming off the best season of his young career. The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver hauled in a league-leading 129 receptions for 1,698 yards last season, earning First Team All-Pro honors in the process. Not bad for a 5-foot-10, sixth-round pick out of Central Michigan University. STACK caught up with Brown at an event sponsored by BioRhythm, a supplement company he endorses, to learn more about the overachieving receiver.
1. He’s Friends with The Rock
Brown often looks to his friend Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for inspiration and advice. The two share the same personal trainer, Dave Rienzi, and they even work out together. “I look up to Dwayne. He really helps me get better,” Brown says. “He always tells me to keep smiling and to stay hungry and stay humble and to work my butt off. He believes in me and believes that I can be great.”
2. He Loves a Big Breakfast
Brown starts his training days with a big meal of protein, healthy fats and whole grains. “In the morning, I’ll have six boiled eggs. I’ll eat two of them whole, so I can get some of those good fats, and then the other ones I’ll eat just the egg whites,” Brown says. “I also eat some steel cut oatmeal. And then I eat bison, which is a really good source of lean protein.”
Nutrition is very important to Brown, and he believes it’s a big reason for his success. He says, “Some guys are concerned with the clothes they wear or the cars they drive, but none of that stuff is as important as what you put into your body.”
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3. He Works Out With His Childhood Buddy (Who’s Also an NFL Player)
Brown spends much of his off-season training with Kayvon Webster, a cornerback for the Denver Broncos. The two men have been friends since high school, and they push each other to their respective limits when they work out together. “Kayvon works really hard. We really push each other and hold each other accountable,” Brown says.
4. He Wants to Pack on Some Muscle
“With everything you do, you’ve got to have a vision and a goal. This off-season, my goal is to gain five pounds of muscle,” Brown says. Judging by this video of a recent leg day, it looks like he’s well on his way. Brown plans on using After Glow, a post-workout supplement from BioRhythm, to help him bulk up.
Though Brown is a relentless worker, he acknowledges a disdain for certain exercises. “I’ve been doing a lot of Pause Squats—which are Squats where you pause and hold for a couple of seconds at the bottom—and those really suck,” he says with a laugh.
5. He’s an Avid Swimmer
Brown avoids heavy running in the early months of the off-season. He says, “You’ve got to let your joints recover and just take a break from all the pounding that you endured over the season.” Instead, his cardio sessions consist of low-impact movements like swimming and cycling. A normal cardio swim session for him is about 36 laps.
6. He Avoids Alcohol
Some NFL players spend their off-season nights drinking at clubs or bars, but Brown tries to avoid alcohol. “Alcohol deteriorates you. You’ve got keep your body clean,” he says. He also tries to drink a gallon of water every day, a practice that has innumerable benefits, such as improved endurance and nutrient transportation.
7. He Gives Back
Brown’s foundation does a ton of work with kids—particularly disadvantaged children in Miami’s poor neighborhoods. One big focus is making sure the kids eat breakfast before school. He says, “A lot of these kids don’t know how important breakfast is, and many of them can’t eat it because of money or because their parents don’t have time to make it. So we’re bringing in chefs to these schools to teach the kids how they can make themselves breakfast with the limited amount of food they have.”
8. His Motto is “Chest Up, Eyes Up, Prayed Up”
When we spoke with him, Brown was sporting a glossy chain designed with a silhouette of a man pointing a football to the sky. “Some people think the logo is me signaling after a first down,” Brown says. “But it’s really a logo of my slogan, which is ‘Chest up. Eyes up. Prayed up.’” To Brown, it’s about believing in yourself, standing strong, working hard and having faith. It has been his motto since he was a kid growing up in Liberty City, a rough neighborhood of Miami. Now it’s the name of his foundation and clothing line.
9. He’s Proud of His NFL Accolades
Brown’s trophy case is rapidly filling up, despite the fact that he’s only been in the league for five seasons. To Brown, his accolades let defenders know they aren’t lining up against any old player—they’re going against a guy who’s proven himself one of the best. “It’s something you wear like a badge of honor,” Brown says.
10. His Motivation Comes From Within
Brown has dealt with doubters his entire life. Many doubted he could escape the mean streets of Liberty City and play college ball. Others questioned his decision to forgo his senior season at Central Michigan and declare for the NFL Draft. And there were those who doubted he could be anything more than a backup in the NFL due to his small stature. But Brown has never let the doubters get to him. He says, “You’ve got to believe in yourself. There will always be doubters. My motivation comes from within. What matters most is what you believe. It’s about what you stand for and the person you want to be. And when you achieve your vision, it’s a beautiful thing.”
11. He Fears No Defense
When Brown was asked if he finds one defender or defense especially intimidating, he shared his belief that every defense can be had if you study it thoroughly. “It’s all a chess game,” he says. “If you watch enough film and understand what the defense or defender is doing or is going to do, you can get them. It’s simple when you see it over and over.”
12. He’s a Pilates Lover
Last time we caught up with Brown, we watched him go through an intense pilates routine—something he still keeps up with today. “You’ve got to do those things; that’s what keeps you tuned up and really helps in the long term. Pilates is one of those little things that really helps me,” he says. Check out the video player above to see Brown’s pilates workout.
13. He Wears Number 84 For a Reason
Brown’s number is a constant reminder that he was a late-round pick—something that still motivates him. “I absolutely still have the chip on my shoulder. I wear 84 for a reason. Eight times four is thirty two. Thirty two NFL teams passed on me multiple times—including the Steelers. I remember draft day and how I felt sitting in the hotel with my mom, waiting to be picked. How long it took to hear my name called. Every time I go out there, it’s added motivation,” Brown says.
14. He Thinks “Big Ben” Has Plenty of Fuel Left in the Tank
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has played 12 seasons in the NFL, but Brown thinks the big guy has a few more good years ahead of him. “Ben’s got plenty of gas left in the tank. I look forward to playing with him for at least a couple more seasons,” Brown says.
15. He’s Getting Better
Brown had a phenomenal season last year, but he’s always focused on improvement. He wants to continue to get better and help the Steelers take the next step as a team. “You’ve always got to be improving,” he says. “You’ve always got to do better than you did before. I’m looking to be sharper and more detailed in my work and help us win more games.”