Ben Roethlisberger On Criticism Over His Leadership: ‘It Was Hurtful’

In some of his first public comments since last season ended on such a disappointing note and all the drama in-between, Ben Roethlisberger spoke with KDKA’s Bob Pompeani to reflect on all that’s happened. Earlier, we noted Roethlisberger’s regret for the comments he made about Antonio Brown following the loss to Denver. Later in the interview, Pompeani asked him about the criticism Roethlisberger faced in the weeks after and as Brown worked his way out of Pittsburgh. Brown, and plenty in the national media, questioned Big Ben’s ability to lead the team.

“They were hurtful,” Roethlisberger said in response to hearing that criticism. “It was hurtful to myself. It was hurtful to my family. I always want to get better. I always strive to be the best I can be.”

2018 ultimately proved to be a disappointing one. The Steelers started 7-2-1 before falling apart down the stretch and missed the playoffs, relying on the Cleveland Browns to bail them out. Cleveland lost to Baltimore in Week 17 and the Steelers were sent home. Roethlisberger, viewing himself as one of the leaders, took the blame for the struggles.

“And last year, we weren’t good enough. we lost six games, we didn’t make the playoffs. So I need to, as a leader of that football team, because leadership is ultimately about winning football games, and I didn’t do a good enough job of being a leader. Because we didn’t make the playoffs.”

He did recognize the other leaders on the team who will help turn the tide in 2019, even without Brown.

“There’s more than one leader in that locker room and we’re lucky to have them. It’s Ramon Foster, it’s Maurkice Pouncey, it’s Cam Heyward. Just to name a few.”

Foster, Pouncey, and Heyward are some of the longest tenured Steelers on the team, though all obviously behind Roethlisberger. Foster decided to re-sign with the team despite the drama the team experienced while Pouncey inked an extension and will likely retire as a member of the black and gold.

“It’s awesome to be able to extend my career there, also my family,” Foster told the team website after signing his contract. “It’s always been a second home to us. We are excited. When we started talking we got it done quick because both sides wanted to get it done. It’s definitely a relief.”

It’ll be another relief to put the drama behind the team and get back to football.

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