Ben Roethlisberger and his leadership abilities has been one of the primary topics for the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason, whether justified or not, so it was pretty much a given that the quarterback would be expected to address it in some form or fashion once the players were put back in front of the media.
Roethlisberger tried to get out in front of most of the questions he would be facing by doing an interview with KDKA that aired the day before OTAs got underway, and probably helped him avoid repeating himself a lot, but there were still plenty of residual issues to address, and the leadership question was a big one.
He did give a pretty thoughtful answer when asked about that, and ultimately placed the blame on himself, saying that the fact that the team failed to reach the postseason was a direct reflection on his ability to lead the team last year.
“When it comes to leadership, we didn’t make the playoffs last year, we didn’t win our division”, he said. “So I lacked in leadership. That is my job as the leader of this team to get us to the playoffs. I am going to need to focus my energy on how can I be a better leader to get us back to the playoffs”.
While there is a case to be made in defending Roethlisberger’s approach to things, the bottom line is that his approach did draw negative attention, and negative headlines, which certainly did nothing in service to aiding the team’s ability to win games.
If Roethlisberger is searching for better and more productive ways to be a leader for the team, then I certainly don’t think that anybody is going to put up much of an argument against that, even those who support him no matter what he does.
“When you are talking leadership, you are talking about relationships”, he said. “In this sport relationships change on a yearly basis because guys are here and gone. You have to do your best to realize what it takes for each guy to develop the best relationship you can”.
Which is of course the primary purpose of what is usually his annual trip to his Georgia residence with one or multiple groups of his teammates, to create, build, and strengthen those relationships, which can be particularly important with wide receivers, and pass-catchers in general.
“Sometimes you have to understand the person too. When you understand the person you can figure out how they like certain passes and try and have fun together”, he said.
I think it’s fair to say that Roethlisberger is going to be under the microscope more than at any other time than perhaps since 2010, for very different reasons. Especially in light of his new contract in contrast to how the national media has covered him.