The leadership style of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been under fire so far this offseason as a few former teammates of his, both of whom just happen to be wide receivers, have said during interviews that he needs to tone down how he conducts himself during his weekly radio show. However, another former Steelers wide receiver, Plaxico Burress, made it clear in a recent sit-down interview with Kristen Leahy of ‘Fair Game’ on FS1 that he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with Roethlisberger’s leadership style.
When asked about what kind of leader that he considers Roethlisberger to be, Burress had nothing but good things to say about the Steelers quarterback that he played with for a total of two seasons in 2004 and 2012.
"I've known @_BigBen7 for 15 years. He's a great person. A great leader." @plaxicoburress tells @KristineLeahy what he has to say to people that question Ben Roethlisberger's leadership skills: pic.twitter.com/XmSuaPevtw
— Fair Game (@FairGameonFS1) February 4, 2019
“I think he’s a great leader,” Burress said of Roethlisberger. “I think people just judge off of what they see, not knowing the individual personally, not being in the locker room and not being around him. I’ve known Ben for 15 years now and he’s a great person, great leader. You don’t have to be a mouth kind of guy to lead. A lot of people lead in different ways by action, by the way they perform and hard work and different things of that nature. He’s a great leader. If he wasn’t a great leader then he wouldn’t have won two super bowls. So I think he’s a great leader.”
There was some full disclosure during that interview, however, as Burress did say that he is still really good friends with Roethlisberger and that he stays in contact with him quite a bit. In short, there was no way that he was going to say anything derogatory about Roethlisberger, not that he had any reason to.
“I’m really close to Ben, we talk all the time and we texts back and forth,” Burress said.
Burress’ recent comments come on the heels of former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward being critical of Roethlisberger during a few media interviews that he had last week while in Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII.
“And then you take Ben Roethlisberger, you do a weekly radio show and you’re constantly putting guys out there and criticizing guys,” Ward told Stephen A. Smith during an interview on his podcast last week. “We had one rule [when I was with the Steelers]. You had Jerome [Bettis], you had Casey Hampton, you had Brett Keisel, you had Joey Porter, James Farrior, we had one rule and it was pretty simple; keep my name out of your mouth when you’re talking to the media. That’s it. If we talk about brotherhood and the team, and our organization and we’re a family, we’re a brotherhood and this, come talk to me outside of the media. You can come talk to me man-to-man. ‘Hey, I think you need to do this, hey, I wouldn’t do this, I wouldn’t do this.’ You don’t have to keep putting it out there in the media.”
Ward wasn’t the only former Steelers wide receiver to recently put Roethlisberger on blast as Emmanuel Sanders, who is now with the Denver Broncos, questioned the leadership qualities of his former quarterback several weeks ago when he was a guest on ‘NFL Gameday’ on the NFL Network.
“I remember talking to Mike Wallace, and me and Mike Wallace were talking about this situation. I said, ‘if Ben called me out on a radio show, the next day I would be walking up to him in the locker room and saying, ‘man, don’t do that. Keep my name out of your mouth,” Sanders said.
Sanders then referred specifically to Roethlisberger’s radio show comments following the Steelers’ game against the Broncos in which rookie wide receiver James Washington failed to run under a deep pass that should have been a big play.
“Even the game versus us, the rookie receiver. He threw the rookie receiver under the bus,” Sanders said. “It’s like, you’re the leader of this team, be a leader. That’s the reason why my comments when I first became a Denver Bronco, and I said Peyton Manning was a far better leader than Ben Roethlisberger, that’s the reason why all that now is coming to fruition. I don’t lie, I don’t hate anybody, I just speak the truth, and that’s the truth.”
Since then, former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch has defended Roethlisberger’s leadership style and did so last week ahead of the Super Bowl.
I’m sure at some point ahead of the 2019 season that Roethlisberger will be asked to respond to those who have questioned his leadership style this offseason and perhaps head coach Mike Tomlin will be asked to critique his starting quarterback in that category as well.