It’s sometimes a rude awakening for fans to learn that the players on their favorite teams don’t hate the players of their rival teams, or at least not nearly as much. Fans—short for fanatics—tend to take their rivalries very seriously. The Pittsburgh Steelers have to hate the Baltimore Ravens. It’s part of the cosmic order. It’s that simple.
Except it’s not. They want to beat each other at every opportunity and prove that they are the ‘big brothers’ in the rivalry, but at the end of the day, all of them are simply football players who have much more in common than they do differences.
Ravens safety Eric Weddle admitted yesterday that he and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger “talk every couple of days”, calling him “a genuine friend”. Of course, he’s only been with the Ravens for a few years and spent the majority of his career with the San Diego Chargers.
“He’s always been a guy that I’ve texted and he always texts right back”, he said. “If I go out of my way and they return the favor, it means a lot to me. There have been times when I’ve reached out to guys and they don’t hit me back. He’s just a real good, genuine guy”.
Of course, Weddle is a player that a lot of Steelers fans wanted in Pittsburgh when he hit the open market a couple of years ago. Even he admitted that he thought he would have been a great fit in the Steelers’ defense.
He’s not the only one in the rivalry that shares a bond, even if it’s a love-hate relationship. We have documented that friendly rivalry between Roethlisberger and Terrell Suggs. Whenever either of them is injured and has to miss one of the rivalry games, they admit that there is something lacking.
Roethlisberger talked about the respect he has for Suggs earlier this week. “I know he does a lot of talking about me, too, but I think there’s a lot of mutual respect there between each other”, he said. “There’s a little bit of talking on the field – I wouldn’t call it trash talking – but there’s some mutual respect trash talking, if you will, that goes on. It’s a special rivalry he and I have”.
We like to take some jabs here and there at the expense of the Ravens and some of the Steelers’ other chief rivals as well, but at the end of the day, we also respect the game and what the competition between them means within that.
After all, you never know when a player from one team comes to join the other.