While Roethlisberger apologizes, Mendenhall basically pulls 'Sorry Not Sorry' on Steelers

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Two offensive players converge in a lowly locker room. Ben Roethlisberger chooses the higher ground while Rashard Mendenhall takes the path foolishly traveled.

Perhaps Rashard Mendenhall plans to enter the free agent market showing off his ability to think.

Perhaps, though, he was much more honest than Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, as the Wednesday Of Apologies played out at the Steelers' South Side practice facility.

Roethlisberger apologized to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, offensive coordinator Todd Haley and team president Art Rooney II for his comments after the Steelers 27-24 loss to Dallas in Week 15. Said Roethlisberger, he allowed his frustrations over his own performance to get the best of him.

So why should he apologize?

He clarified the one statement that seemed more of the personal variety when he explained the defense showed up in what appeared to be a perfect set to face the playcall the Steelers had on Heath Miller's eventual 30-yard touchdown reception - the play was made when Roethlisberger avoided pressure in the pocket for a solid eight seconds before Miller broke free down the sideline.

Apologies, in this case, are trumped by ownership. And Haley should own a part of the team's recent offensive swoon as much as Roethlisberger or any of the Steelers' regular offensive players.

Interestingly, in the same locker room, displaced running back Rashard Mendenhall is owning up to something else.

Mendenhall didn't apologize or explain his side of his one-game suspension for missing the Steelers' Week 14 game against San Diego - the first in their two-game losing streak. Instead, he made sure everyone in attendance was aware of the amount of thinking he puts into all of his actions.

Tomlin offered Mendenhall a rope to the media, softening up the situation by suggesting Mendenhall was simply frustrated over his deactivation status.

Understandable, if not condoned.

Apparently, that wasn't important to Mendenhall.

"I wouldn't use that word," Mendenhall said about Tomlin's suggestion that Mendenhall was "frustrated." "There's a lot of thought that goes into everything that I do."

Oh, ok. So you put a lot of thought into your decision to not show up for the game. That's all we needed to know.

Two players, both with levels of success with the organization and in the league. One offers himself as a sacrificial lamb for the sake of moving the team forward through a train-wreck of a season, and one perpetuates the issue for the sake of making sure people are passively reminded that he not only turned his back on his team, but he contemplated his exact decision up to the moment he failed to show up.

It's curious whether Mendenhall is as smart as he thinks he is, or if he really just either doesn't care about the team or his image in the league.

This isn't at all to suggest Mendenhall is nothing more than a commodity who must never take a stand for himself as a person. It does question, though, whether Mendenhall's benching is the appropriate scenario in which to choose one's self pride over the bigger picture.

He doesn't need to be a football player to achieve happiness in life (it doesn't seem that way, at least), and if he simply wants to retire after this season, then fine, but it wasn't long ago Dolphins running back Ricky Williams went through his phase of questioning the meaning of life, and whether he wanted to play football. He snapped back to reality pretty quickly when the Dolphins said if he's retiring, they want the signing bonus they gave him back.

Funny how things change when millions of dollars are on the line.

It's an odd scenario, because I don't necessarily feel Roethlisberger is sorry for his comments, but perhaps for the revelation of them in the media. That doesn't seem like something to apologize for, but rather, choose not to do in the future. His apology is being more conscientious of the company line, and trying to simply make peace in wake of a must-win game.

Mendenhall's "Sorry I'm Not Sorry" bit is plenty of reason to suggest he's not interested in taking a part in the development of a positive group dynamic, and that's unfortunate. He can put a lot of thought into what he's going to do in free agency - and I'm sure he has.

He should remember, though, what Roethlisberger did is a big part of why he gets a pass in situations like this more often than not, and Mendenhall is going to be ripped for the rest of his career.


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