Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is on the tail end of what is soon to be a Hall of Fame worthy career. Two Super Bowl titles, nearly every franchise record and a newly added league passing title are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Big Ben’s list of accomplishments. With so much success enjoyed since his arrival in 2004, Roethlisberger has undoubtedly made his case as one of the best to ever put on a Steelers uniform.
In most careers, success usually commands respect no matter what is thought on a personal level. Yet we have the luxury of playing armchair QB, GM and analyst all at the same time, and Ben’s chosen career field comes with judgement from the court of public opinion whether he likes it or not. That same luxury is also held by fellow players in the NFL.
Current Denver Bronco and former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders has always held a strong opinion in regards to Roethlisberger as a leader, calling him out after joining Denver in 2014. Just a few days ago, Sanders appeared on NFL Network to talk about the ongoing Antonio Brown situation in Pittsburgh.
When asked about Roethlisberger, Sanders doubled-down on what he said five years ago. Sanders again called Roethlisberger a bad leader, and furthered his comments by calling him disrespectful for continually calling teammates out over radio interviews.
That wasn’t the only evidence of Roethlisberger not having a great reputation as teammate. The Athletic conducted a twelve question survey for 85 NFL players across the league about opposing quarterbacks they’ve faced. When asked about which quarterback they would least like to be teammates with, Roethlisberger ranked second to last in the poll with 11% of players voting him, second only to Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers with 14% of the vote.
Sanders isn’t alone in his opinions, as Big Ben’s reputation through the league doesn’t appear to reflect in a positive light. With all the testimonies and constant stirring of the pot via his radio show appearances, is Roethlisberger truly a terrible teammate?
From a pure public perspective, it certainly appears so. Yet an extremely large portion of the population has not played on a football field with Roethlisberger.
There are plenty of cases of players who have played with Ben and hold him in high regard.
Center Maurkice Pouncey said he would retire the day Roethlisberger calls it quits, showing a great amount of loyalty to his quarterback. Even Antonio Brown has stuck up for his quarterback time after time, most recently doing-so in December after Ben made public comments about Brown’s route-running late in the Denver game that led to an interception.
“Ben’s my guy, man. I love him. Anything he says, there’s a method to his madness” Brown told ESPN, “It’s only to inspire the group, encourage the group to be better. That’s the type of guy he is. I don’t know if it’s been misconstrued or changed in regards to how you guys put it out there, but he means well… He’s the only one in this locker room that’s probably got a championship under his belt.”
Positive or negative opinions aside, one thing has stood the test of time through Roethlisberger’s career: The Steelers on-field success depends on Ben’s play more than any others.