This might not go over too well right now, because Aditi Kinkhabwala does not have the greatest reputation in the city right now, but the veteran reporter recently went on the air with Peter King on his podcast to discuss a number of topics surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I thought she had some interesting things to say—that is, provided that her sources are accurate.
One of the biggest discussions that we are having this offseason concerns the locker room specifically, and how the Steelers—particularly Head Coach Mike Tomlin—have handled a number of incidents surrounding high-profile players, and how that has subsequently affected others in the process.
We have heard tricklings here and there from a variety of reporters about less established or famous players in the locker room growing quite weary of not just the behavior of players like Antonio Brown, but also how the coaches—again, particularly Tomlin—have allowed their behavior to continue over a period of time. Kinkhabwala spoke directly to that topic with King.
“Mike Tomlin’s locker room is very, very upset about what this season devolved into”, she told King. “That the distraction was allowed to fester in such a way that certain athletes, their behavior was repeatedly covered up, and they were therefore given license to continue behaving that way”.
It wasn’t just in the locker room, either. According to Kinkhabwala, it was also on the radio, referencing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s weekly radio appearances, for which he has frequently been criticized because of one thing that he has said or another, often regarding a specific teammate.
“I can tell you from multiple, multiple people in that locker room told me how disruptive and disheartening it was to have Ben Roethlisberger go on the radio weekly and call out some teammate or another”, Kinkhabwala said.
A couple of incidents in particular stand out. He was somewhat harsh on rookie wide receiver James Washington after he dropped a deep pass in a loss to the Denver Broncos. That was the same game in which he threw an interception at the goal line to end it. In the same segment, he seemed to fault Brown for running an imprecise route—even though, had he not, the throw likely would have been intercepted by the cornerback covering him anyway.
He also declined to single out Brown as his only number one receiver, essentially saying that all of his targets are number one. Later in the year, he talked up JuJu Smith-Schuster, saying that he felt they should have targeted him four times in a row during one red zone trip. Back in the spring, he publicly questioned the rationale behind drafting a quarterback.
I have far fewer problems than most pertaining to what Roethlisberger says on his radio show, but if it’s an issue in the locker room—and I say this as somebody who profits off of writing about his statements—then I’m all for shutting it down.