Just a day removed from sharing his thoughts about the performances of some of his teammates in the Pittsburgh Steelers disappointing loss to the Denver Broncos, Ben Roethlisberger was left answering questions from the media on Wednesday about the wisdom of calling out players in the press.
Big Ben has never been shy about speaking his mind, even when it seems that some of his remarks might have been better said in private, and the quarterback defended his habit of publicly criticizing his teammates when speaking to reporters before practice.
“Being around for a long time, dealing with a lot of different players, you have to know how to motivate different guys in different ways and I think that’s part of being a leader, being a captain, just understanding players. Sometimes you just grab them off to the sides and sometimes you have to be honest with them. I think that I’ve earned the right to be able to do that with as long as I have been here, and I’ll just be just as critical of myself, as well, in front of you guys.”
Asked how he thinks players respond to his motivational tactics, Roethlisberger suggested he was the wrong person to ask.
“Go ask them, I have no idea. You would have to ask them. I would hope that they would understand that as the quarterback and the captain that I have the right to do those things. I don’t feel like I abuse that situation. So I don’t think it’s an issue, but you would have to ask them.”
Ben Roethlisberger talks about being ready for the 4th quarter of the season, all of his top targets, Philip Rivers and more. pic.twitter.com/KuMtGsbzA2— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 28, 2018
While Big Ben cannot have pleased players like Antonio Brown and James Washington or offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner with his remarks, it is worth noting that James Conner was not given the same treatment as his teammates. Roethlisberger has consistently stood up for his running back after questionable errors in the last two games and did so again during his recent radio segment in the face of criticism of Conner from the show’s hosts.
Tuesday was not the first time Brown or Washington have been called out by their quarterback either and it would seem they are the sort of players Roethlisberger believes respond better to tough love rather than the more sympathetic approach he appears to be taking with Conner. The offense line receive nothing but compliments from their quarterback, and did so even in an era when the unit was among the worst in the league. I am also hard pressed to ever remember hearing a negative word about Roosevelt Nix from Big Ben.
Upon reflection, it might perhaps be more accurate to say that Roethlisberger is more open to calling out his pass catchers publicly, and everyone else is off limits. Martavis Bryant, JuJu Smith-Schuster and even Hines Ward are just some of the receivers who have drawn the ire of Big Ben when faced with a microphone and that is unlikely to change in the future for players like Brown, let alone Washington.