Based on comments made Wednesday by Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, fans of the team can probably expect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to continue on with his in season radio show that sometimes includes him publicly criticizing teammates for things they might have done wrong during games.
According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com on Wednesday, Colbert “emphatically endorsed” Roethlisberger as the team’s leader moving forward during the general manager’s session with the local media. Colbert even went as far as to point to Roethlisberger’s role ahead of the Steelers double-digit comeback attempt against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the playoffs a few years ago as an example of the quarterback’s prime leadership abilities.
Per Fowler on Twitter: “Kevin Colbert emphatically endorsed Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership, citing impassioned speech at halftime in Jax as one example. Colbert won’t curb Big Ben sharing opinions on radio b/c “Ben’s the elder statesman. If the players were smart, they’d listen to him. he’s been there”
Kevin Colbert emphatically endorsed Ben Roethlisberger's leadership, citing impassioned speech at halftime in Jax as one example. Colbert won't curb Big Ben sharing opinions on radio b/c "Ben’s the elder statesman. If the players were smart, they’d listen to him. he’s been there"
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 20, 2019
Colbert’s Wednesday comments about Roethlisberger and the way he carries himself during his weekly in season radio show come on the heels of wide receiver Antonio Brown saying this past week that the team’s quarterback is able to speak out without any sort of consequence.
“He has a[n] owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches,” Brown said of Roethlisberger during a recent question and answer session on Twitter.
A few days after last season’s road loss to the Denver Broncos, Roethlisberger was somewhat critical of the play of Brown and rookie wide receiver James Washington in that contest but his comments probably received way too much criticism just the same.
“He did undercut AB. Who knows what would have happened,” Roethlisberger said of his last-second interception of a pass that was intended for Brown in the team’s loss to the Broncos. “That’s where I talked to AB, like ‘AB, you have to come flat. You can’t drift in the end zone because those undercuts can happen.’”
Roethlisberger also talked during that same radio interview about the missed deep pass attempt to Washington in that game against the Broncos that should have been completed.
“James needs to just run through that and it’s a touchdown,” Roethlisberger said. “JuJu’s was a little tougher but James’, he needs to make that play. Yes, he’s a rookie, but you can’t be out there if you’re not going to make those kinds plays for us.”
Not long after making those remarks, Roethlisberger defended his right to make them during his weekly locker room session with the local media.
“I think that I have earned the right to be able to do that as long as I’ve been here,” Roethlisberger told reporters at the time. “And I’ll be just as critical of myself as well in front of you guys.”
Roethlisberger latter added during that same media session that he thoughtfully makes those kinds of criticisms of teammates and uses it as a motivational tool, and not just for the sake of criticism.
“Being around for a long time, dealing with a lot of different players. You have to know how to motivate different guys in different ways,” Roethlisberger said. “I think that’s part of being a leader, being a captain. Just understanding players. Sometimes you just grab them off to the side, sometimes you have to be honest with them.
Roethlisberger was later asked if he thought teammates might not appreciate those kind of comments and the quarterback indicated that while he didn’t think it was an issue, he couldn’t speak for anyone else.
“I would hope they understand as the quarterback and the captain I have the right to do those things,” Roethlisberger said. “I feel like I don’t abuse that situation. So I don’t think it’s an issue but you’ll have to ask them.”
With it now being agreed upon as of this week that the Steelers will attempt to trade Brown this offseason, the wide receiver’s last days in Pittsburgh will likely be remembered by several as him losing out to the team’s franchise quarterback in a power struggle of sorts that came to one last head during the team’s final week of regular season practices.
In addition to Brown being critical this offseason of things Roethlisberger says during his weekly radio show about teammates and their play, former Steelers wide receivers Hines Ward and Emmanuel Sanders have made similar comments since the end of the 2018 regular season. We’ll now have to wait and see if Roethlisberger continues on the same way in 2019 and if he passive aggressively takes any sort of shot at Brown, Ward or Sanders along the way. Regardless, however Roethlisberger decides to proceed with his comments to the media moving forward, it doesn’t sound like Colbert will take any sort of issue with them.