As someone who has watched him for the past 15 years, I’d be disingenuous if I told you that I didn’t think Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was a little, well, disingenuous when it comes to forging relationships with teammates, coaches, fans, etc.
Let’s face it, he’s just not very good at it. He’s never going to be Mr. Steeler. His time in Pittsburgh will always be remembered fondly—much more than that, actually—but can’t you just see him moving away when his career is complete? Can’t you see him kind of distancing himself from all things Steelers? It wouldn’t be unprecedented. It wouldn’t even be an egregious act—lots of ex-Steelers (beloved and not so much) have done the same.
When it comes to Roethlisberger, it’s no secret he’s never exactly been a universally popular teammate. As far as we know, he’s not hosting picnics on a regular basis—and even if he is, he’s certainly not including all 52 teammates on his Facebook invite list.
With that in mind, I can certainly see why Josh Harris, a running back who spent one season in the NFL—2014—and shared the same locker room with Roethlisberger, doesn’t exactly have warm and fuzzy feelings when thinking about the only franchise quarterback he ever played with.
But it’s one thing to spend the very definition of a cup of coffee in the NFL—five games, nine carries and 16 yards—and not have fond memories of the one player on the team that obviously didn’t have much time for you given his importance and status—not to mention your status as someone who was about five degrees below Le’Veon Bell in 2014. It’s quite another to assassinate the man’s character.
But assassinate Roethlisberger’s character, Harris did, last week, by flat out saying in a Tweet that the veteran quarterback intentionally fumbled at the tail-end of a Week 17 game against the Bengals at Heinz Field that season.
“Todd Haley called a run play with very little time left in the game. Ben wanted to kneel. He rolled his eyes in the huddle. He then purposely fumbles the ball. I had to recover it. At that moment I knew what kinda person he was.”
As far as accusations go, it was a very safe one for Harris to make, given that the Bengals were down by two scores with little time remaining, Harris recovered the fumble, and the the Steelers won the game.
It was also a half-decade ago, and Harris is nothing but a distant memory—if even that—who doesn’t have to personally answer to his former teammate about said accusation.
You know what else it was? A very unfair thing to say, given that there is no way anyone can prove the fumble was intentional.
The only thing Harris’s accusation did do was pile on more drama to an organization that’s certainly had its fair share.
But you know what? The Steelers have nothing to do with this latest bit of drama. This was a former player that certainly lacks the credibility to judge the character of anyone he played with, considering the limited amount of time he spent with most of the people on that squad—especially Roethlisberger. Secondly, it’s a baseless accusation that would be irresponsible for some nobody writer like me to make, let alone an athlete who played even a minute of professional sports.
Again, Ben Roethlisberger was probably never Harris’s buddy during his short stay in Pittsburgh. To reiterate, he’s probably never had very many in that locker room over the years—in that regard, he’s like another blond, multi-time Super Bowl winning quarterback with a Double B nickname who used to play for the Steelers. But to assassinate his character by making such an outlandish accusation? That says more about the running back than it does the quarterback.
Josh Harris left a long time ago, and much like his career with the team, his accusation has little relevance and nothing to do with the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers.