Despite attempts by Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and the national media to portray Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as the devil incarnate, comments from a number of his current and former teammates have contradicted that characterization as of late. But perhaps none more so than the revelations of wide receiver Ryan Switzer on Monday.
When speaking to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com, the young receiver opened up about the impact the business of football can have on a player, acknowledging the challenges he faced after being traded twice in the same year and the psychological toll it took on him.
“I am not going to downplay it, it was extremely hard. I was in a pretty bad place when I showed up to Pittsburgh. Being traded twice in five months. Not sure what was going on. Not knowing why it wasn’t working out. When the stuff started happening in Oakland, the last two weeks of training camp the coaches stopped talking to me. They weren’t giving me any reps in the preseason. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I came to find out I was on the trading block for a while.”
“Moving out of a house, to the West Coast, back to the East Coast. I lost a lot of money moving. It was a mess. I was newly married. There were a lot of factors that went into why I was feeling how I was. When I got here I didn’t expect too much. My mind hadn’t settled down. I was processing everything that was going on. That was the state I was in. I was in a really bad place mentally.”
And while Roethlisberger might not have a reputation as the warmest of people, especially if you believe the recent remarks of Brown and Bell, it was interesting to note that Switzer thanked both Big Ben and Mike Tomlin for making him feel welcome when he initially arrived in Pittsburgh.
“It was no question the lowest I have ever been in my football career, the lowest without a doubt. Just to go from the lowest I have ever felt to potentially the highest, being integrated into this team, such a strong group of guys. It went from the lowest to the highest. That is a credit to Coach (Mike) Tomlin, the veterans in the locker room, the organization. Everyone who welcomed me and made me feel like I was at home.”
“To have a Hall of Fame quarterback work with me, reach out to me. It would have been so easy for him to say this guy got here seven days before the first game. I don’t trust him, I don’t want to work with him. But he didn’t do that.”
Crediting Roethlisberger for helping to reinvigorate his love of the game, Switzer paints a very different picture to the one the national media has been pushing over the past few months.
“Ben and I talked after the season, I wanted to express my thanks to him. When I got here I remember telling my wife, my agent, I am going to see how this first couple of days go. I was so low mentally I was ready to retire. The game at that point wasn’t worth the mental stress it was putting on me and my life. He helped me so much.”
While this interview first appeared on Monday on the Steelers official website, it is rather telling that not one of the media outlets who have devoted hours to bashing Big Ben this offseason have repeated a single remark from Switzer on air. I guess they must have missed the piece. (If the system allowed it, I would insert a rolls-eyes emoji here)
The full interview can be found here