There has been a lot of talk about team culture and ‘The Steeler Way’ this past week. A lot of it has been driven by outside parties. Not just interested reporters like Aditi Kinkhabwala, who specializes in such rhetoric, but also from former players like Ryan Clark and Rocky Bleier, whose comments reporters like the aforementioned are fueled by.
With that being said, it’s not as though it’s not also present in the locker room, to some degree, though it’s not distinctly different from what you would see in any locker room with a substantial age gap between its most veteran players and its newest starters. That’s life, something that a locker room has always reflected.
“You can only do so much”, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, regarding preservation of a team’s culture, or at least his own perception of it. “You worry about it because there can’t be many—one handful of guys in that locker room that even remember who Dan Rooney was”.
You probably read about the anecdote he followed suit with in explaining why he discourages music being played in the locker room, which stems from the times that former team owner Dan Rooney, who has now passed on, would walk through and have conversations with the players. The younger players, of course, only know Rooney from the stories that are communicated from the older players and coaching staff who knew him.
“You can pass it on, and like I said, I told those guys the story of why I didn’t want the music because you’d love to hear the stories”, Roethlisberger said. “But you can only tell guys those stories so much before they’re kind of like, ‘okay, this is someone just talking’ kind of thing. You can pass on tradition all you want, but the further you get away from something, the harder it is to do”.
He added that there were probably players from the 70s who watched the teams from the 2000s and said, that’s now the Steeler Way. “That’s just the way things go”, he said. “It just happens, but who knows?”.
Defensive captain Cameron Heyward added his own perspective. The Steeler Way is winning, he said, and that’s what needs to be passed on. I, frankly, am with Heyward on this one. I don’t particularly care the manner nor style in which the Steelers win, as long as it produces the desired result, particularly if the preferred style doesn’t lead to the same outcomes.