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SI Article Paints Ben As Problem Using Comments Former Player Disputes Meaning Of

While I wouldn’t consider myself a regular reader by any means, any time I took a look at the Monday Morning Quarterback column over the years I tended to find at least something substantial, something that felt credible.

That isn’t what I found yesterday when I was directly to read the latest article from Robert Klemko, which makes the argument, based almost entirely around the opinion of one reserve player who spent one season with the Steelers, that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a problem for the Pittsburgh Steelers in terms of the culture of the locker room, and thus for the morale and togetherness of the team as a whole.

That player would be Josh Harris, from whom we have already heard, who recently accused Roethlisberger of deliberately fumbling at the end of a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014. With the Steelers holding a comfortable lead, Harris argues that Roethlisberger was protesting a run call rather than a kneeldown (truthfully, there was no point not to kneel whatsoever) by fumbling the ball off of fullback Will Johnson.

The running back argued he “knew what kinda person [Roethlisberger] was” from that incident, which is patently absurd to begin with. Klemko reached out to Harris for further comment later in the week, who told him that the quarterback did not have a relationship with many players on the team outside of his primary offensive core, in opposition to backup Charlie Batch.

“So when Ben is critical of players publicly without having a relationship with them, it can rub them the wrong way because they don’t know if it is out of love or what”, he said. “And when you call out All-Pro guys, that definitely doesn’t sit well with them”.

Klemko also spoke with Isaac Redman, who told the reporter that “when you just only see the guy in the locker room and on the field and you get to a radio show and you say something bad, it’s going to rub guys the wrong way”.

For his part, Redman responded to the article via Twitter, saying that he response was “I’ve never had an issue with him” and that “some guys are closer than others. I think Ben is just careful with who he surrounds himself with”.

It’s also important to remind that we are talking about the years between 2010 and 2014, primarily, with these players, which was still the aftermath of the Milledgeville scandal. Roethlisberger was absolutely more within himself during that time period.

In 2015, the year after Harris was gone—Redman was already gone—Bleacher Report published a glowing featurette about Roethlisberger about how he may be literally the greatest teammate in the entire NFL.

In it, among other things, Dan Pompei quoted the then-young running back Le’Veon Bell, dealing with multiple drug suspensions, who told the reporter that the quarterback was “always telling me right from wrong. He has said if I ever need help or have a problem, I should let him know”.

Antonio Brown was also quoted as saying that Roethlisberger “made me a better person by talking about life things, family things”, the Oakland Raiders wide receiver told Pompei four years ago. “He has told me about mistakes he has made and encouraged me not to make the same mistakes. He talks about making sure we are doing the right thing for our families and being the best man we can be”.
The article also details multiple all-expenses paid outings in which Roethlisberger invited a large number of his (primarily offensive) teammates to socialize and train with him at his Georgia residence, and a trip out to the west coast as well.

“Additionally, Roethlisberger hosts get-togethers for teammates at his Pittsburgh-area home, where they swim in a pool with No. 7 on the bottom, and at his father’s house, where they ride ATVs and grill steaks”, the article continued. “A willingness to share is part of what endears Roethlisberger to his teammates”.

It’s almost as if you can’t solely rely upon the words of disgruntled former teammates to gain a complete narrative of a player. Granted, you’re not going to get an unvarnished characterization on-record from many current teammates, either, but if Klemko’s best case is that Roethlisberger is a problem because a running back who the quarterback may not have spoken to a lot and who thought he deliberately fumbled on a meaningless snap chose to believe that that says something about the man’s character, then—I really have no further comment, because it’s simply not even worth taking the effort to say.

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