The past few years have been rough for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Immense amounts of talent seemingly wasted by playoff failures, and blown opportunities. The Steelers are now given the task of trying to move on from that history, and start anew in 2019.
What might not have been known, and maybe never will be known, is how the drama, the losses and overall turmoil impacted everyone on the roster. None likely greater than quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
As a quarterback in the NFL, you are constantly under the spotlight at every turn, and this forces you to always put on your game face when talking with the media. You say all the right things, you smile, you laugh and you go with the flow. Because anything other than that would just draw even more attention, and drama, to the team.
However, with the circus that was Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown officially gone, it seems as if a breath of fresh air has blown into training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. Vance McDonald recently spoke to media about how Roethlisberger is like a different player both on and off the field. Still extremely focused, but with a renewed sense of enjoyment when approaching his job.
Just read what Roethlisberger told Steeelers.com’s Mike Prisuta:
3 Takes That Resonate from Practice No. 6: Roethlisberger concurred with McDonald take regarding the fresh-air vibe that’s hard to describe but easy to recognize: “I don’t know, I just know that I’m loving football. I’m really enjoying being out here and I’m having fun doing it.”— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) August 2, 2019
The quote reads, “I don’t know [if there is a fresh-air vibe at practices], I just know that I’m loving football. I’m really enjoying being out here and I’m having fun doing it.”
There are times when you can read too much into a quote, but, in my opinion, you can’t read too much into this one. Roethlisberger’s renewed sense of purpose, and joy playing the game, could pay huge dividends both on and off the field. And don’t think Roethlisberger hasn’t learned from past failures, such as dealing with a disgruntled teammate.
Another quote via Prisuta:
2. Ben on why he considers dialogue, communication w/teammates essential: “If there is an issue with anything, a practice, whatever it is, let’s just talk and get it out there. Because then you can move on quicker and you can actually mend things and become closer by doing that.”— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) August 2, 2019
“If there is an issue with anything, a practice, whatever it is, let’s just talk and get it out there. Because then you can move on quicker and you can actually mend things and become closer by doing that.”
If that doesn’t scream, “I’ve learned my lesson from the Antonio Brown saga.” I don’t know what does. Roethlisberger doesn’t just have a team who is all-in on following him as the leader of the team, but it seems as if Roethlisberger’s leadership is taking a turn for the better heading into 2019.
Add all of this up, the renewed joy playing and adjustments to handling teammates, and you have yourself a Ben Roethlisberger who is ready to go out and prove people wrong. A Roethlisberger who is ready to go out and have fun while dominating the competition. All while having a better relationship with his teammates to actually have people buying in to the “band of brothers” slogan he once famously touted before and after every game.
If you paid close enough attention, you could see the past few seasons wear on Roethlisberger. The questions, the drama the overall dissatisfaction with his job. All of that seems to be gone, but did it all leave with Bell and Brown, or is there more to it? That we will never know, but the fact Roethlisberger is rejuvenated should be tremendous news for the black-and-gold, and their fans, in 2019.