There’s nothing quite like controversy in your own house to get everybody talking, and since the start of the offseason, we have heard from many former Pittsburgh Steelers players, some even still active in the league, among them Ryan Clark, Plaxico Burress, Jerome Bettis, Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, and Emmanuel Sanders. You’ll notice that that’s a lot of wide receivers, by the way.
Yesterday, Bettis was cornered by TMZ and he obliged them for a couple of minutes, talking about Brown’s evident dispute with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, with whom the Hall of Fame running back played during the final two years of his season.
“Clearly there’s a disconnect. I was hopeful that they could find a way to work through it”, he said, adding, “but you never know. It’s not over yet”. When asked why he thinks that, he said, “that’s one person. He doesn’t decide what happens. But who knows?”.
Roethlisberger was just beginning his career as Bettis’ was ending. He came in as a rookie and helped lead the Steelers to a 15-1 record just a year after posting a losing season, advancing to the AFC Championship Game. The 2005 regular season was a rougher ride, but the ending was sweeter, resulting in a Super Bowl. He helped rally the team around the cause of winning it for Bettis, so he may be biased.
On Brown’s issues with Roethlisberger, Bettis chose largely to defer. “Well, that’s a dispute that’s in-house. I don’t know. I wasn’t there”, he said. “But I know Ben. He’s a stand-up guy. So I’d have to see that for myself, because it’s hard for me to believe that Ben is distancing himself from all the guys. But you know what, AB was in the locker room, but I would need to see it to believe it”.
It’s an interesting situation because of the way that Bettis’ career overlaps with Roethlisberger’s. He was only there for the first two years, leading up to the Super Bowl, before he had really established himself, and perhaps began to grow into the egotist and questionable teammate and leader that has to be called out by Charlie Batch and others, and was ultimately humbled following the 2010 Milledgeville incident.
He has grown tremendously since then, but from Bettis’ early experiences with Roethlisberger, he did see him as a capable leader then, and a leader now. “From what I know, yeah” he’s a good leader, he told TMZ.
Brown would disagree with that. We have recapped his remarks from HBO’s The Shop last night in which he again went after Roethlisberger and said that he has an owner’s mentality. Which he said to LeBron James, who literally said prior to that that his goal is to own a team.
Roethlisberger isn’t the perfect leader and should sometimes use more caution before he comments on something, but I do think he’s a good leader from what we can see in the public sphere.