Things could be going a lot better for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger this offseason. He is supposed to be getting a long-term contract, but it hasn’t happened yet, and there are indications that there are some hang-ups in the negotiations that are not making it as simple a process as it might have been in the past.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that his current contract rates outside the top 15 at the position in terms of average annual salary, which almost necessarily must be addressed in his next and perhaps final extension, simply because it’s hard to justify for either party.
Not only is the business side going slower than may have been anticipated, he has also been under heavy fire throughout the offseason—amazingly enough, even more so than the two malcontents that knocked over the plants on their way out the door, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown—for what may largely amount to phantom accusations and good old-fashioned misunderstandings.
Roethlisberger has been roasted almost on a daily basis for months now on one nationally syndicates sports talk show or another, with even Sports Illustrated both penning an article that painted him as a problem and hosting an interview for Bell without any effort to question his claims in which he levied some pretty heavy criticisms about his former teammate.
So what can he do about it? What should he do about it?
The best answer is probably nothing. There is nothing that he should do, except to say “no comment” when he’s inevitably asked, because there’s no way that he can win by defending himself. Most of his teammates have remained silent in his defense as well beyond simply saying that there is no point in doing so because the people who need to hear it won’t be listening anyway.
I have no doubt that Roethlisberger is going to continue to do his radio show, and he is going to asked an untold number of times in all variety of different ways to address the accusations against him regarding his attitude and his leadership ability.
And answering any of them with an honest statement cannot do him nor anybody else much of any good. At least I don’t think so. A stock answer is the best that he should offer. Perhaps something to say that he felt differently about his relationships with his teammates and that he’ll be mindful to do better in the future if that’s how they felt.
Anything more than that—anything that sounds defensive—is just going to get him ripped apart all over again. Josh Harris is still pumping out his conspiracy theory that Roethlisberger deliberately fumbled in 2014 and that the fact that he did that says something meaningful about the type of person he is.
There’s no way to win this war of public perception except through winning. Nobody really cares about your attitude or leadership if you’re winning. In fact, winning makes people see you as a leader, and interprets whatever your attitude is in a positive light, ‘because it works’.