It won’t be long now before Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is throwing passes to Donte Moncrief and Diontae Johnson while wide receiver Antonio Brown is fielding them from Derek Carr with the Oakland Raiders. When that happens, it will be the first time since before Brown’s rookie season in 2010 that the duo will be separated on the field.
We all know how that went down, since it was the biggest story of the offseason, Brown’s antics even at times overshadowing the events taking place during the postseason back in January and February, so we don’t need to recount the saga. But as we are on the eve of the first regular season following the separation, it’s understandable that Roethlisberger was asked about it during the first part of an interview with Andrea Kremer that aired last night.
After discussing the process of replacing his production with a multitude of players, Roethlisberger was asked about the notion of addition by subtraction. He instead chose to talk about the unstable nature of rosters from year to year.
“No team is ever the same”, he said. Whenever that last game of the year is, when we do our team prayer, we always tell the guys, ‘hey, look around, because this is the last time that this group will be together as a whole like this’”.
And it’s not as though the wide receiver room hasn’t changed. Hines Ward retired in 2012. Mike Wallace left in 2013. Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery left in 2014. Martavis Bryant was traded last year, and Sammie Coates the year before that.
Kremer asked Roethlisberger, reflecting back at the end of last season when Brown was held out of the finale, if he thought at that time the wide receiver would be back in 2019. “You know, I didn’t know what to think, but I assumed he would be here, yes”, he said. “As far as I knew, he wanted to be a Steeler, and we wanted him to be here”.
She continued to press him on the subject of the schism between the two sides, bringing up the drama and the tipping point between distraction and production, a topic that Mike Tomlin addressed during his end-of-season press conference.
All Roethlisberger would offer up was that “I think we all create distractions”. He added, “I know I’ve done it. So I’m going to do my best not to do it moving forward”.
He also wished Brown well and said that he understands what he’s been going through in Oakland, attributing his helmet caper to the wide receiver’s value of his safety, which I thought was pretty generous to somebody who told him to “shut up already”.
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) September 4, 2019