The Pittsburgh Steelers are an organization that likes to keep things close to the vest. They don’t just let anyone inside, and that includes what the organization wants as it pertains to their players speaking to the media.
Throughout his career, Ben Roethlisberger has walked that thin line, and sometimes crossed over to the wrong side. However, it wasn’t until he was viewed as a leader did he begin to speak up.
In 2004, Roethlisberger’s rookie season, the team was riddled with veterans. Players like: Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, James Farrior, Joey Porter, Casey Hampton and others. During that time Roethlisberger wasn’t called upon to be a leader. Instead, he let others do the leading.
Towards the end of his career, Roethlisberger was the offense’s lone leader. A veteran on a very young offense. During this time Roethlisberger noticed a transition on the team, something he spoke openly about when he did a one-on-one interview with Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Here were his comments:
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. ... when I came in, I didn’t have to be special. There were times we did special things, but we had such a great defense. We had Jerome [Bettis]. We had a veteran line. 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.
After the comments were made public last Friday, there have been several fans who thought Roethlisberger’s comments were just a bit “off”. As it turns out, it wasn’t just the fans who felt this way. You can include Steelers defensive captain Cam Heyward amongst those who were turned off by Roethlisberger’s recent interview.
In Heyward’s Not Just Football podcast, he addressed the quotes, and disagreed with them hole-heartedly. Instead of just putting the quotes, it is important to hear Heyward speak, and not take words out of context.
Below is the segment where Heyward speaks about Roethlisberger’s comments, courtesy of Brooke Pryor of ESPN:
Full episode of Cam Heyward’s @NotJustFootball pod is out. Here’s the clip where he address Ben Roethlisberger’s comments in a conversation with Brett Keisel. https://t.co/PlTGuDUm0w— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 27, 2022
Heyward speaking out and defending the current Steelers locker room shouldn’t shock anyone. Unlike Roethlisberger, Heyward is still a large part of the team and has to address these situations.
The rebuttal from Heyward doesn’t mean he dislikes Roethlisberger, just that he doesn’t believe what he said was genuinely true. Yes, the game changes. Yes, players change. But it doesn’t necessarily mean the players who wear the black and gold every game day don’t have a team-first mentality.
Leadership isn’t for everyone, but Heyward’s recent comments should speak volumes to those who are still inside the walls of the organization. But what do you think? Do you believe Roethlisberger’s comments were purely innocent? Or do you side with Heyward? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on through training camp.