After some scathing comments made last week to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook regarding the lack of playoff success in the last decade for the Pittsburgh Steelers regarding “me-first” players, former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had to unsurprisingly walk back his comments Thursday morning on 102.5 WDVE’s morning show with hosts Randy Baumann and Mike Prisuta.
Last week, Roethlisberger — in an exclusive one-on-one with Cook — stated that the has changed from it being all about the team to players putting themselves and their own success ahead of the team.
“I feel like the game has changed,” Roethlisberger told Cook. “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.”
Roethlisberger, who received some blowback from the national and local media, and former teammate Cameron Heyward, appeared on 102.5 WDVE Thursday morning and stated that he should have been more specific regarding his “me-first” comments to Cook, stating that those types of players are in the vast minority in the league today and on the Steelers.
“Well, I’ll tell you this, I probably should have been more detailed, more specific in what I said,” Roethlisberger said on WDVE Thursday morning, according to audio via 102.5 WDVE and iHeart Radio. “It’s not the majority of the guys that are that way. I think in part, I was saying too, when asked what’s the difference in the league nowadays from when I first got in and even when Cam [Heyward] first got in the, the difference in the, in the league and the mentality of players and toughness, whatever you wanna say.
“It was a very broad-stroked kind of comment, but Cam and I honestly have sat down many times in the last couple years and had the same conversation. So it’s not like it’s new to Cam. I get Cam’s supporting his teammates that he’s still playing with.”
Roethlisberger should have been much more specific in what he was saying to Cook in the interview. Much like his radio show on 93.7 The Fan throughout his career, Roethlisberger can get a little too comfortable talking on the phone in interviews, letting things spill out the probably shouldn’t, or not properly phrasing something, which then creates a media firestorm much like he did with his comments to Cook.
That’s what led to the walk-back session Thursday morning.
“I wasn’t trying to bash anybody specifically. I was just making a broad stroke judgement,” Roethlisberger added, according to audio via 102.5 WDVE. “Cam’s entitled to disagree with me or whatever he says and be upset and this, that, and the other. But like I said, he and I have had those conversations. So I know he knows what I’m talking about. And I will say this: I agree with him. I should have been more clear.
“The majority of the guys on that team are very team-first guys, you know? So…I hated that it got painted like it’s the majority of me-first. It’s not that way. There are so many great team guys on that team and that care about the Steelers, this organization and winning…I maybe should have clarified that a little more to begin with. So that’s my bad.”
The media got a hold of Cam Heyward ahead of Thursday’s practice to ask him about Ben’s comments and if has had any affect on the team per video provided by 93.7 The Fan’s Jeff Hathhorn’s Twitter account. Heyward’s response? “We’re focused on football.”
Roethlisberger was always good about owning up to mistakes made through the media in the past, so this doesn’t come as much of a surprise from him Thursday morning. The one thing I kept coming back to in the interview though was that Roethlisberger wasn’t really talking about the most recent version of the Steelers.
In fact, I think he was talking about guys like Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown late in their Steelers’ careers, rather than guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, and more. That’s what the initial conversation with Cook felt like Roethlisberger was trying to say, rather than pinning the playoff failures on younger players overall.
Still, Roethlisberger’s comment remain tone deaf even if he tried to walk it back and say he should have been more specific. Maybe he should have just said nothing about me-first guys at all when it came to the playoff failures, instead focusing on what actually was the cause of some playoff losses, which were critical interceptions, bad snaps, and poor defensive play overall.
Sometimes it’s fine being brutally honest and pointing your finger at yourself in tough instances, rather than fabricating some conversation piece while sounding like an old man yelling to get off his lawn. Maybe that’s what Roethlisberger is at this point, though.