With each passing day, it begins to seem more and more that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin were virtually innocent with respect to the deterioration of the team’s relationship with former wide receiver Antonio Brown. And that’s an odd place to be considering where we were in January and February, with questions of leadership and discipline abounding.
While Brown’s absurd antics in Oakland are shining a light on what the organization had dealt with internally for years, however, that does not absolve everybody else of every other thing that might have happened, nor is anybody getting off the hook.
Former Steelers cornerback Rod Woodson, now a media analyst, for example, was a bit critical of both while appearing on The Zach Gelb Show a few days ago. Roethlisberger was raked over the coals for comments that he made following a loss to the Denver Broncos, for example.
“I would like to see him be a leader of Ben first”, Woodson said of the future Hall of Fame quarterback. “Great leaders normally take the responsibility when things go wrong, even if it’s not their fault. Once you do that, everybody else falls in line. I’d like to see him do that more often”.
While I understand the sentiment, the truth is that it’s misguided, because Roethlisberger has a long history of taking the blame for just about everything, with the Denver game being the outlier. Only it’s come to define his personality rather than serve as the exception that proves the rule. And the truth is that will probably follow him for a while, even if it’s a false representation of reality.
Woodson also offered that while Tomlin is a good coach, he would like to see him exercise more authority over his players. “It’s like having 53 teenagers. If you’ve got 53 teenagers, you’re not going to let your teenagers just run the roost in your house”, he said.
“If they do something wrong, you have to discipline them in some type of manner to catch their attention. I think the same thing has to happen in the locker room. If he does that, he’s going to be fine. I think the football team is in a good position”.
Gelb asked him, given that he has some coaching experience, what he might do or have done in the past. Woodson said that he would have suspended Brown for a game following the Facebook Live incident after the victory in the 2015 AFC Championship Game. Brown missed the following game with a concussion anyway, however.
I don’t think that even the most ardent defenders of either Roethlisberger or Tomlin would ever claim that they are without flaw, but the same could be said of any other coach or player. Do they need to do better? Perhaps. And Woodson did seem optimistic about where the team was, particularly on offense, heading into 2019 even through his minor criticisms.