For as much attention the Pittsburgh Steelers have managed to generate for non-football reasons, the most ridiculous and absurd was the focus paid to an innocuous off-hand remark made a week ago by General Manager Kevin Colbert in which he was trying to explain Ben Roethlisberger’s unique position on the roster.
In elaborating on Roethlisberger’s role as a leader in part stemming from his Super Bowl-winning experiences, Colbert referred to the rest of the roster as ’52 kids’, a remark that apparently offended a good deal of people. On reporter who asked Colbert about it earlier today at the NFL Scouting Combine intimated that wide receiver Antonio Brown was among them.
This prompted Colbert to elaborate on his previous explanation yet again that he gave on Friday.
“The ’52 kids’ comment—if anybody was there for the entire 30 minutes of the interview, they understood what I was saying”, he started.
His original comments were made in a private pool interview last Wednesday among a gathering of local beat writers, and it was their spreading of the remarks that exposed it to the broader media, which fed the 24-hour sports new cycle for a while.
“I put myself first in the blame for the 9-6-1 non-playoff season”, Colbert stressed. “So in referencing 52 kids, what I was referencing is [the fact that Ben Roethlisberger] is the only player on our roster that’s won a Super Bowl”.
Technically, Morgan Burnett also won a Super Bowl during his rookie season with the Green Bay Packers, who defeated the Steelers in the Super Bowl during the 2010 season. But his point is understood, and frankly, Burnett probably won’t be here much longer.
One point Colbert strove to make very clear is that he does not back down from what he says, because he tries to speak carefully and with purpose. And whatever he is willing to say publicly to the media he is willing to say behind closed doors as well.
“I’ve had that conversation not only with Ben, I’ve had that conversation with Maurkice Pouncey. I’ve had that conversation with Cam Heyward, right after the season during our exit interviews”, he said about the championship-caliber remark. “So that’s something that really—any time I say anything in the media, I’m not afraid to say it to our players, and probably have prior to that”.
So perhaps we can finally put the ‘kids’ comment behind us once and for all. Probably not, because soundbites always outlive their context, but I would hope at least that the majority of those who follow us will take the time to digest the full story.