The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.
These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Did Ben Roethlisberger really place blame on a ‘me first’ attitude among younger teammates for the Steelers’ lack of postseason success over the last dozen years?
One of the most common things that we read from retired players these days when they talk about ‘the game today’ is about how it’s more about the individual than it used to be, when it was more team-focused. The pros and cons of this can be debated, but I think it’s generally accepted that there is more player-centric power in the NFL today than there was a decade or two ago. And with social media and new branding opportunities, more players are focusing on ways to monetize themselves, which they previously did not have access to.
Okay. Let’s say a lot of that is true, if not all of it. Let’s even say it’s all bad, and detrimental to the efforts of winning in a team sport. Is that why the Steelers have only won three postseason games since the end of the 2010 season? And more to the point at hand—is that really what Ben Roethlisberger said?
This is an open question, and I’m not trying to offer an answer here. But I’ve seen media outlets of various flavors, even hitting headlines outside of the realm of football, seizing on the idea of this spoiled, coddled old-timer lamenting the current generation while being ignorant of the advantages he himself had.
So let’s ‘go back to the tape and see what he said, or at least how what he said was framed in Ron Cook’s article, and then I’ll leave it off with you. This is what he said, and the context in which what he said was quoted. Is he laying at least some of the blame for the Steelers’ lack of postseason success on a degradation of self-sacrifice and team-oriented focus?
Another big regret was the fact the Steelers won just three playoff games since that 2010 run to the Super Bowl.
“I feel like the game has changed. I feel like the people have changed in a sense. Maybe it’s because I got spoiled when I came in. The team was so important. It was all about the team. Now, it’s about me and this, that and the other.
“I might be standing on a soapbox a little bit, but that’s my biggest takeaway from when I started to the end. It turned from a team-first to a me-type attitude. It was hard. It’s hard for these young guys, too. Social media. They’re treated so well in college. Now, this new NIL stuff, which is unbelievable. They’re treated so special. They’re coddled at a young age because college coaches need them to win, too. I know coach [Terry] Hoeppner never coddled me [at Miami of Ohio]. Neither did [Bill] Cowher.”
Frankly, it’s hard to know without knowing exactly how what Roethlisberger said came up. Did he say it directly in response to a topic about his regret that the team hadn’t won more postseason games, and that this was the reason why that happened? We can’t know that unless we have Cook’s transcript, unfortunately, so it’s up to the individual to provide their own interpretations.