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A Letter From the Editor: Ben Roethlisberger speaks, but maybe he shouldn’t

Ben Roethlisberger has injected himself into the conversation, and maybe it is time for this to stop happening as the 2022 Steelers report to work this week.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Pittsburgh Steelers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

In case you didn’t notice, this past week Ben Roethlisberger injected his name into the Pittsburgh Steelers news wire after giving the Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook an interview to talk about his life in retirement.

In the interview, Roethlisberger talked openly about a lot of topics.

  • Leadership of the team
  • The front office’s desire, or lack thereof, for him to return in 2021
  • New Steelers quarterbacks
  • His favorite Steelers moments

...and plenty more!

For the average Steelers fan, this was a fantastic glimpse into Roethlisberger’s mind, but for me it was another eye-rolling moment for the former Steelers quarterback.

Yes, even as a fan of Roethlisberger, I have grown extremely tired of these types of interviews. I understand it was how Roethlisberger used to try and communicate/motivate his teammates, but it resulted in a face plant more than it did a success. When you think back to Roethlisberger’s weekly spot on the local sports radio, it almost always resulted in headlines, and very few of them were deemed positive.

At first glance, Roethlisberger’s interview seemed innocent, then as I kept reading I kept wondering why Roethlisberger even took the interview. Sure, he has a good relationship with Cook, but if Cook sends Roethlisberger a text message it could look something like this:

RC: Hey Ben, was wondering if you’d be willing to do an interview with the Steelers reporting to camp next week.

BR: Hey Ron, hope all is well, but I’m going to politely decline. I don’t want to take away from the 2022 team. Maybe later in the year or next offseason.

Instead, what we got were quotes like these which, in my opinion, were cringe-worthy:

On the team’s three playoff wins since 2010:

“I feel like the game has changed. I feel like the people have changed in a sense. Maybe it’s because I got spoiled when I came in. The team was so important. It was all about the team. Now, it’s about me and this, that and the other.

“I might be standing on a soapbox a little bit, but that’s my biggest takeaway from when I started to the end. It turned from a team-first to a me-type attitude. It was hard. It’s hard for these young guys, too. Social media. They’re treated so well in college. Now, this new NIL stuff, which is unbelievable. They’re treated so special. They’re coddled at a young age because college coaches need them to win, too. I know coach [Terry] Hoeppner never coddled me [at Miami of Ohio]. Neither did [Bill] Cowher.”

On the front office when he returned in 2021:

“It was mostly Kevin [Colbert]. He was ready to move on. I think Mike [Tomlin] was a little ready to move on, but I think he was OK with me coming back. I think Mr. [Art] Rooney really wanted me to come back last year to play. …

“I thought I went out on my terms. I never wanted to stay too long. I know some people might think I did. ‘You stayed last year.’ But I thought I played pretty well last year, to be honest. My arm feels like I still could go out and play. I’m pretty confident I could still play. But it’s every day. It’s mental. Not having to prepare for camp and the season has been the biggest blessing for me. I’m fine with where I’m at with everything.”

On the Super Bowl 45 loss:

“That was tough. It still stings. We lost [Maurkice Pouncey] right before that game. I still think, ‘What if? What if he’s able to play?’ He was such a different playmaker for us. I look back at it and think, man. …

“I know some Packers. I have talked to them. We were starting to make a little bit of a run, driving down the field. They were nervous. A couple of guys were like, ‘Here they go.’ It would have been fun to see what would have happened [if Rashard Mendenhall hadn’t fumbled].”

The above quotes will be deemed as pretty harmless by the vast majority of fans, but my question remains — why even take the interview? Sure, he just retired last season, but do you think someone like Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu or even Heath Miller took these same requests after they retired.

The answer is no.

Ward took a job with NBC after his retirement, and gave his opinion on the Steelers, but Roethlisberger once again injecting himself into the conversation as the team prepares for training camp just seems odd. If I’m being completely honest, it feels desperate. A call for attention.

To an extent, I get it. Roethlisberger has been getting geared up for training camp at this time of the year for the last 18 years. It has to be weird for him to now get acclimated to life without football.

At some point Roethlisberger will just fade into the background and become just another former player, but it seems the 18-year franchise quarterback isn’t ready to do that yet. Will he ever? That’s certainly debatable, I just hope it happens sooner, rather than later.

(Note: The Letter From the Editor feature runs every Sunday morning during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)