Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert somehow managed to get himself publicly excoriated recently after he referred to the team’s roster outside of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger—the oldest and most experienced player, and the only one with Super Bowl rings—as kids.
A myriad of commentators, qualified or otherwise, came out of the woodwork to express their outrage, and there was even an indications from Aditi Kinkhabwala, whether true or not, that perhaps some veterans on the team were not thrilled with that remark.
Even though Colbert clarified his remarks yesterday, we can frankly go back to his comments on Wednesday to testify that he doesn’t believe everybody outside of Roethlisberger on the roster is qualified to be taken seriously. After he was asked if he consults with Roethlisberger about what to do with Antonio Brown, the general manager volunteered that it’s not only the quarterback.
We consult on a daily basis, not with just Ben – I talk to the captains of this team, I talk to the backups of
this team, I talk to the coach, Coach Tomlin, the assistants”, he said, per Will Graves of the Associated Press courtesy of a transcript provided to us. “There’s always an exchange”.
“All the time there’s interaction. So, we take that into consideration, not only with Ben, but with Cam Heyward, with Maurkice Pouncey, with Roosevelt Nix”, Colbert continued. “We talk to them all. Listen, players at the professional level, I don’t care what the sport is, they’re involved, especially your significant players, in any professional sport don’t have a say in what happens, I think that’s a little naïve”.
If he believed that everybody on the roster outside of Roethlisberger was a mere child, then he wouldn’t be consulting with them. Frankly, though, we already knew this, and it’s concerning that the remark ever blew up because of that. Colbert and president Art Rooney II already explained that they intended to consult with team leaders about the Brown situation, as they do with many issues related to the team.
Colbert expanded on his interaction with the other team leaders yesterday when he appeared on the NFL Network, in addition. As Dave Bryan already quoted him as saying, “I will usually follow up and talk to the players as well and give them my perspective and ask them for their perspective. Because we trust them, we trust what they do, what they see, what they feel, when they are not only in the game, but in the locker room and the preparation and the meetings”.
“And they can be honest with us”, he went on. “We can exchange freely as to their feelings and we value their opinions, quite honestly, because they live in that moment. And again, no one’s lived in that moment more than Ben, so I’ll value that tremendously”.
Mike Tomlin frequently likes to say that he treats his players like adults, in that he doesn’t actively monitor their behavior and allows them to be themselves. In hindsight, Colbert using the term “kids” was unfortunate in that context, but is otherwise innocuous as actions speak louder than words.