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Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis defends Big Ben's leadership skills

When Ben Roethlisberger was in his second year in the NFL, he helped lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl win in Detroit. Jerome Bettis, part of that winning team, defended Big Ben today against claims he isn't as good a leader as Peyton Manning.

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Earlier in the day Behind the Steel Curtain's managing editor, Neal Coolong, opined that what works for Peyton Manning, in terms of exhibiting leadership, may not be what works for everyone else.

It appears he has some support in that particular line of thinking from Steelers legend and former running back Jerome Bettis.

The (semi) debate was launched when former Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders declared that his new quarterback, future Hall of Fame'er Peyton Manning, was a "far better leader " than his former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, another future Hall of Fame'er.

"This is the first time that I had a quarterback that stays every single day after practice, no matter what his accolades," Sanders said about Manning. "He's not one of those guys you gotta go chase down. He's going to be right at the same spot ready to work every single day."

Sanders stuck by his guns yesterday, tweeting "I never said Ben wasn't a leader...I just said Peyton is a better one...".

Bettis played with Roethlisberger for two years, Ben's first and second in the NFL, and they won a championship together in 2005.

Speaking on ESPN's "First Take" today, Bettis said his former quarterback is a good leader who simply operates with a different style from Manning.

"I don't believe that Ben falls short in the leadership department," said Bettis. "You don't win a championship with a lack of leadership."

"I think [Sanders] misunderstood what leadership is and he misspoke, and I think it was a little bit of a jab," said Bettis. "I think if he had a chance, he'd take it back. It's not that Ben doesn't lead. He just leads differently than Peyton does."

Bettis went on to say that Sanders' comments were misguided and a little disrespectful.

"The Bus", as Bettis is famously known,  knows first hand exactly what kind of leader Ben Roethlisberger is, even if it was nearly a decade ago and Ben was a rookie at the time.

After a crushing playoff defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots in 2004, Bettis was strongly considering retirement without the Super Bowl ring he so badly craved.

"Ben Roethlisberger told me, 'Hey, don't retire. I'm going to get you a championship. Trust me on this,'" Bettis said. "After every playoff game [in 2005], he gave me the game ball. After we won the Super Bowl, he gave me the game ball. That's leadership."