If there were three names that could be singled out as arguably the greatest sources of ‘drama’ in the locker room over the course of the past two seasons, during which we introduced the soap opera-inspired As the Steelers Turn graphic to talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ weekly absurdities, those names would be Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Mike Mitchell.
By the time the Steelers take the field again, all three will be gone. Mitchell eventually signed with the Indianapolis Colts in 2018 after he was released in the spring. The team is working on trading Brown, and they have already made it clear that they will not tag Bell, who figures to sign a big-money, high-guarantee contract in a couple of weeks.
Many people want to throw in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s name as well, and while I think his role in all of it has been greatly exaggerated by some—largely unintentional, really—I do think it’s a name that should be a part of the discussion.
As for Ed Bouchette, however, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette veteran reporter doesn’t see it that way. During a recent chat, he was asked how much the quarterback was responsible for the “recent discord” in the locker room.
“I don’t think he had or has anything to do with it”, he said. This also seems to be the opinion of the majority of the beat writers who actually get in the locker room to cover the team, though notably, not all of them see it that way. Notably, Bouchette’s co-worker, Ray Fittipaldo responded to a similar question in his own chat by saying that he would be telling the quarterback to tone it down during his contract talks.
And they shouldn’t. The likelihood is that Roethlisberger’s public comments during interviews and on the radio do have some role in what is going on. I don’t think he says anything with ill intent or with the purpose of causing controversy, however. He simply has very little filter, other than vocabulary selection, when he has a microphone in his face. He’s going to tell you what he really thinks, for the most part.
When General Manager Kevin Colbert spoke to local reporters on Wednesday a week ago, he was asked whether or not, more or less, he thought Roethlisberger should reign in his public comments, and he said otherwise.
Colbert will be speaking in front of the national media today at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, and I’m sure somebody is going to ask him a similar question again. It will be interesting to see how he revises his position, it at all, from his original comments, the phrasing of which already got him in some trouble, silly as it was.