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Reports of Ben Roethlisberger’s future speaks volumes about relationship with Todd Haley

At the Pro Bowl, reports swirled of Ben Roethlisberger wanting to play three more seasons—in stark contrast to what he said in 2016. Something is amiss...

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Saying this makes me slightly ill, but Ian Rapoport may have been right all along.

No, not in regard to Ben Roethlisberger wanting a trade years ago, but regarding the disconnect between Roethlisberger and former offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Rapoport, among other national media types, all reported how Roethlisberger couldn’t stand Haley and wanted him gone—and how Roethlisberger longed for the days of Bruce Arians.

It’s sad to say, but these media blowhards might have been right all along.

Now, you wouldn’t know any different from what Roethlisberger says to the media. He thanked Haley for his time in Pittsburgh, stating how the team’s offense was a Top-5 unit every year when he was calling the plays, and fluffed up the former coordinator in every way possible.

But like the pillow you fluff, and fluff and fluff, but can’t seem to get comfortable with, that was Haley to Roethlisberger. Recently, at the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl, Maurkice Pouncey told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN Roethlisberger wants to play three more seasons.

“He told us three (more) years,” Pouncey told ESPN. “He says he wants to play out his contract so we’ll see.”

Told that Roethlisberger has just two more years on his current contract, meaning only a new deal would facilitate a three-year pact, Pouncey said with a smile: “That’s even better. Because I’ve only got two years left on mine.”

There lies the rub in this entire scenario. You may be wondering how I know for a fact guys like Rapoport were right this entire time? Let’s go back and do a quick history lesson.

The 2016 season ends with a sickening thud in the AFC Championship game. Pittsburgh is beaten down again by the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, and the following Tuesday on his weekly radio show Roethlisberger hints at hanging it up. But he doesn’t stop there. With plenty of other opportunities throughout the off-season to say he was just speaking in the heat of the moment and disavow those remarks, Roethlisberger teased out the retirement talk for the entire off-season.

And don’t think management wasn’t listening.

Fast forward to the 2017 season, when Pittsburgh’s season ended in deflating fashion with a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round, and fans around the globe prepared themselves to hear more of the same from No. 7.

But they didn’t.

No, Roethlisberger spoke to Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette before even meeting with the media, and told him he would be back.

Wait, what?!

You make it to the AFC Championship game in 2016 and want to step away from the game. The Jaguars come to Pittsburgh and prematurely end your season, and you are ready to go again? This doesn’t seem to add up, but it does if you read the writing on the wall.

The Steelers, and more importantly Roethlisberger, knew Haley was going to be gone at the end of the season, and it’s also likely Roethlisberger knew Randy Fichtner would be promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. In other words, he got what he wanted, and because of this, his entire outlook on his future with the team changed.

I get it. Work relationships matter, and Roethlisberger and Haley were clearly like oil and water. But when I saw the aforementioned series of events take place, I knew it was more about Roethlisberger and Haley than anyone was letting on.

So, the quarterback got his way. He has his guy at offensive coordinator, and now it’s time to fly — or else everyone might wonder who was truly the issue in the twisted and faded Haley/Roethlisberger era.