Big Ben blew out his arm during the Steelers game against the Seahawks on Sunday ... and at 37 years old -- some are wondering if that's the last game we'll ever see the guy play.
But, Plaxico -- who was a Steeler with Roethlisberger in 2004 -- says he talked to Ben this week ... and came away from their conversation encouraged the QB will be back just fine.
"We share a special relationship," the ex-receiver says. "I know that this won't be his last hurrah. He's not built like that. He's going to come back healthy and ready to play."
As for Burress' message to Ben, he says he told the QB straight-up, "Stay strong."
We also spoke with Plaxico about the other QBs in Ben's famous 2004 NFL Draft class ... and you've gotta hear his thoughts on Philip Rivers.
HINT: Plaxico LOVES the Chargers star!!!
It's no secret the 2 butted heads several times when they were Steelers teammates ... with Brown even tweeting Ben had the "owner mentality" after getting blamed for a late-game interception last season.
Roethlisberger recently talked about how he handled that specific situation in an interview with Michele Tafoya ... saying, "I wish I wouldn't have done it."
"Obviously, we saw what happened and obviously it ruined a friendship," Ben said. "I just got caught up in the emotion of the heat of the battle."
But, AB is havin' NONE of that "friend" talk ... blasting his old QB for trying to make it sound like they were tight.
"Never friends just had to get my ends.......shut up already," AB tweeted on Tuesday.
"He's awesome," the stud receiver says ... "We love him. We love him. It's been fun."
Of course, there are a few dudes in Pittsburgh who'd disagree ... Brown left the Steelers on bad terms a few months ago -- and everyone from JuJu Smith-Schuster to ex-teammate Ryan Clark blasted the guy.
But, it's so far, so good in Oakland ... so says Tyrell (who just signed with the Raiders this offseason himself), 'cause the WR tells us he's actually learning some tricks from Brown.
BTW, we also spoke with Tyrell about the Raiders' future move to Vegas ... and he says he's got no worries about the future trek to Nevada!
The Pittsburgh Steelers are OFFICIALLY done with Antonio Brown ... they just gave away his #84 jersey to an undrafted free agent tight end -- just a few weeks after AB's departure!!
Of course, Brown's exit from the black and yellow wasn't pretty ... dude had drama with just about everyone on the team.
But, the guy was a legend for the Steelers -- 11,207 receiving yards and 74 receiving TDs in 9 seasons -- and some thought MAYBE Pittsburgh might want to retire his number eventually.
But, the Steelers shot down ANY plans of that this week -- because they not only gave away his number ... they handed it to a UDFA TE!!!
Now, Milan Richard ain't a scrub -- dude did win 2 national championships at Clemson -- but he ain't exactly Antonio Brown either.
For their part, the Steelers also had no problems giving away Le'Veon Bell's old #26 jersey ... newly acquired safety Mark Barron has already called dibs on those digits.
In case you were wondering, the Steelers have only officially retired 2 players' numbers in franchise history -- Joe Greene (#75) and Ernie Stautner (#70) -- but they've historically taken some digits, like Terry Bradshaw's #12 and Franco Harris' #32, off the table nonetheless.
Antonio Brown is threatening Ryan Clark with violence if his former teammate doesn't stop talking about him ... telling the ex-Steelers DB, "next time we meet it’s on site ain’t gone spare u."
Remember, Clark and AB have been going at it for months ... 'cause Ryan -- who's now an ESPN analyst -- was critical of the WR while his drama in Pittsburgh was all unfolding in the winter.
At the time, Ryan said Brown and the Steelers needed to part ways because of AB's antics ... and Antonio famously fired back, calling Clark an "Uncle Tom."
Now, the beef has escalated ... because after Ryan brought up Antonio's name again on Twitter on Wednesday -- Brown straight-up threatened him with violence.
"Bro stop mentioning my name I know it get u clout keep that same analysis energy next time we meet it’s on site ain’t gone spare u."
We might not have to wait long to see their reunion ... the Raiders play on ESPN's first "Monday Night Football" broadcast on Sept. 9 and Clark could be working the game!!!
Of course, Brown's Steelers career was FILLED with drama ... and it got so bad in Pittsburgh, it's the reason he's actually in the silver and black today.
Because of that ... Del Rio thinks it won't be smooth sailing with the Raiders, telling NFL.com, "If he continues doing the things he's been doing, just like he upset the Steelers, he's going to upset the next team he's on."
"I mean, this is America and he's free to do what he wants -- but those aren't the things that are indicative of a good teammate."
Del Rio says Brown IS a hard worker and a super talent, so it won't be all bad times in Oakland ... but the ex-head coach says he sees the writing clearly on the wall for the future Hall of Famer.
"The working hard and being a good player definitely helps the team, which is why he'll continue to get chances to be special until his skills deteriorate. That's when people will get tired of him."
"He gave his body a rest," CJ2K tells TMZ Sports ... "Now he's coming back healthy. He rejuvenated his body and he's ready to go."
Le'Veon was known as arguably the NFL's biggest workhorse before he sat out all of last season over a contract dispute with the Steelers.
In 4 of the 5 seasons that he suited up for Pittsburgh ... he touched the ball at least 289 times -- including a staggering 406 in the 2017 season.
But, after carrying it ZERO times this past year ... Chris says he's projecting a monster year for Bell with his new team.
"I think it'll be a big season," Johnson says ... "It's a lot that goes into it, but, you know, I wish him the best and I hope he proves all the doubters wrong."
By the way, Chris -- who played one season for the Jets in 2014 -- gave some advice to Bell for how to tackle New York ... and ya gotta hear the wise wisdom he shelled out!!!
We spoke with the NFL star about his ex-team's newest addition ... and he's stoked for several reasons -- one being the fans having something to be excited about again. (After all, the Browns were awful in Haden's 7 years in Ohio).
"I'm happy for Cleveland. That's a great football city," Haden tells us. "They deserve everything. Odell, that's one of my good friends ... he's gonna bring a lot of flash and flare there."
The other big reason -- Haden can now line up against his good friend, Odell Beckham, twice a year ... and it's got some extra sauce to it, considering Pittsburgh's huge rivalry with CLE.
"I can't wait. You gotta go against the best to be the best."
Of course, the Browns officially introduced OBJ on Monday ... and there's a lot of talk about Cleveland being serious contenders with guys like Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt and Jarvis Landry on offense.
Georgia stud WR Mecole Hardman can be Antonio Brown's replacement in Pittsburgh, so says the NFL draft prospect himself ... who tells TMZ Sports, "I can be that guy!"
Of course, the Steelers just lost A.B. after an offseason full of drama ... and now they've got a glaring hole at wideout heading into next month's NFL draft.
Enter Hardman -- a superstar with the Bulldogs -- who says he'd have no problem if Pittsburgh picked him to be A.B.'s replacement!
And, why?? Well, outside of realizing his NFL dreams ... he tells us he grew up a HUGE Steelers fan!!!
"My daddy was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so he had put me on them when Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu and all them were there. Big Ben was just getting there, so like, I've been rocking with the Steelers for a minute."
Mecole's expected to go anywhere from the second round to the fifth round in April's draft ... but he fits the profile of a guy Pittsburgh could seriously consider.
The 21-year-old ran a 4.33 at the combine ... and crushed it with 7 TDs for the Bulldogs last season.
Soooo, Kevin Colbert ... you listening?!?!
"I don't understand it," Bradshaw says ... "He's a great leader. He is. He's solid."
In fact, AB wrote on Twitter just a couple weeks ago, "He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches."
Le'Veon added in an interview with Sports Illustrated, "Ben wants to win his way, and that’s tough to play with."
But, Bradshaw thinks the criticism is unfounded ... telling us, "I find him to be fine."
Terry's biggest problem with the whole drama now??? He says it's cost the Steelers a TON of firepower ... and he's concerned the team might miss the playoffs for the second straight year.
"I'm worried about our team."
As for Ben ... Bradshaw's got no worries that he might leave, telling us Ben will get a new, big contract from the team sooner rather than later.
"He deserves it."
Limas Sweed -- a former University of Texas football star -- says he's suffering from serious brain disorders as a result of hits from his college football career ... and now he's suing the NCAA.
Sweed was a STUD wide receiver for the Longhorns from 2003 to 2007 -- when he and Vince Young led the team to some epic victories, including that legendary 2005 Rose Bowl win over USC.
After his college career, Sweed was selected by the Steelers in the 2nd round of the '08 NFL Draft -- but his pro career never panned out.
Now, the 34-year-old says he's suffering from all sorts of brain-related disorders and he's pointing the finger at the NCAA for not doing enough to protect the players.
In his suit, Sweed says ... "While playing at Texas, [Sweed] suffered from numerous concussions, as well as countless sub-concussive hits as part of routine practice and gameplay."
Sweed says when he took a large blow to the head, he would be sent back into the game (or practice) after an "inadequate amount of time."
As a result of repeated damage he took, Sweed now claims he suffers from depression, headaches, memory loss, mood swings, emotional instability, motor impairment and more.
Sweed claims his pain is a "direct and proximate result of [the NCAA's] negligence."
He's suing for more than $5 MILLION ... citing fraud, negligence and breach of contract.
Sweed was a monster at UT ... he put up 1,915 receiving yards and 20 receiving TDs in his 4 years there -- all while helping Vince Young and the Longhorns win the 2005 National Championship.
After 2 unsuccessful seasons in the NFL, Sweed played in the CFL ... but retired just a few years later.
"He's going to definitely draw a lot of attention," Crowder says ... "He helps open it up for guys like myself."
Of course, New York went crazy in free agency this month ... signing a bunch of good players to huge-money deals, including Jamison and Le'Veon.
But, Crowder seems most excited for the Bell deal ... telling us, Le'Veon is so good out of the backfield -- there's going to be A LOT of space for him to work in the secondary now.
"I'm just excited to play alongside a guy like Le'Veon Bell."
Jamison's takin' note ... and is predicting not only a big season for himself -- but others in the receiving corps too!!!
By the way, Crowder -- who's been working out at his old school, Duke, this offseason -- is running a camp next month for a VERY good cause, and he told us all about why.
Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.
Did you know there was something in the gym James Harrison COULDN'T do!?
It's true ... he hadn't joined the 500-pound bench press club -- but he changed all that with one hulk-like lift Tuesday ... and yeah, it was impressive as hell.
The ex-Steelers superstar loaded up 10 plates and then some on his bar to get up to the half-a-thousand-pound mark ... and then he CRUSHED it!!!
Watch the clip ... Harrison takes the bar all the way to his chest -- and gets it up to full lockout without any help (you watching, Odell???)
You could tell Harrison was super impressed with himself ... 'cause he immediately jumped off the bench looking for dap from fellow gym-goers.
"500!! I told you I’d be back for your bi$&h a$$!" James wrote after the lift.
"You just don’t know how many nightmares you gave me - having to relive the failure of not tossing your heavy a$$ off my chest and having to explain to my kids that daddy lost! Lmao JK #500club"
If you're unfamiliar, James is maybe the most impressive NFL weight lifter ever ... routinely tossin' around iron like he did to offensive tackles.
In fact, remember when he was in the gym at 5 AM after a playoff game in 2017?!?!
Le'Veon Bell just signed a $52.5 mil contract, but LB is still focused on his other career -- throwing an album release party in Miami, and TMZ Sports has the footage.
Bell hit up Rockwell Nightclub in Miami Beach Saturday to perform songs from his new rap album, "Life's a Gamble" -- and the place went crazy for him.
Among the songs he performed was "Free at Last" -- where he talks about his drama with the Pittsburg Steelers. One of the lyrics includes, "I'm gonna make them open up their safes. I'm just doin' what I gotta do to get me paid."
There's more ... many of the lyrics have to do with Bell's football career and how excited he was to leave the Steelers and sign with a new team. During the nightclub performance, Bell was wearing some big ass gold chains -- no doubt a result of getting a huge new contract in New York.
Of course, Bell just signed 4-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets. Bell has been rapping for years under the name rap name Juice. Despite his new deal, he's not about to put the mic down anytime soon.
It's the sports reaction you never thought you'd need ... but you'll be glad you watched, trust us.
Yes, as it turns out, the 'Queer Eye' star -- an Allentown, PA native -- is a HUGE Steelers fan. Seriously, the dude even has AB's total yardage memorized like some kinda freak.
So, with CK being the biggest AB fan east of the Mississippi, we had to ask the fashion guru how he's handling the news of Brown going to the Silver and Black.
And, uh ... let's just say he's had better days.
"I can't believe it," Kressley tells us in NYC. "We're gonna miss him. Antonio, come back to us, please!!!"
There are fake tears, hugs, and compliments shared as our camera guy consoles the devastated Kressley ... and it makes you almost feel bad for the dude.
Stay strong, Carson. There's always JuJu.
"It's sad because Antonio Brown is a heck of a player. I think everybody knows that. So, I think that's going to be a loss for Pittsburgh."
If you missed it, the Steelers gave AB away over the weekend to the Raiders for just a 3rd-round pick and a 5th-round pick in next month's NFL draft.
Brown is unanimously considered to be better than those two ... which is why Walker can't understand how Pittsburgh didn't get MORE for the future Hall of Famer.
"It's strange because with a guy as talented as Antonio Brown, you assume they'll get something out of it."
As for this trade changing the future of the Steelers in a way similar to how HIS trade from the Cowboys catalyzed Dallas back in 1989 ... Walker tells us why that's just not possible.