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.
Rooney: Steelers Plan to Return to St. Vincent for 2021 Training Camp
There is plenty that remains up in the air about the 2021 NFL offseason, but the Pittsburgh Steelers still have plans to resume one of their enduring traditions that was broken by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The Steelers were forced to forgo their trip to the campus of St. Vincent College near Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 2020 due to the NFL’s rules regarding keeping players isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s unclear how much those restrictions will change for the NFL teams this summer, but as things stand as of today, the Steelers are still making plans to return to the Laurel Highlands for the team’s annual training camp this summer.
“As we sit here today, our plan is to have training camp in Latrobe,” team president Art Rooney II said to Steelers.com on Friday. “We still have a ways to go to get there, but I think there’s a pretty good chance that’s going to be able to happen. We’re still hopeful we’re going to have some form of offseason program, and it’s probably not going to start on time but I think it’s important particularly for the young players that we get back to having an offseason program and then a full training camp and preseason games. I think we need to have that to help the young players continue to develop.”
Displaced from their usual bucolic summer home and from UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side due to capacity limitations, the Steelers spent the 2020 training camp and preseason at Heinz Field.
NFL Network Analysts Call Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger 3rd-Best in AFC North
It appears that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is likely to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers, with both Roethlisberger’s agent and team president Art Rooney II making public statements that each party desires a return for 2021 this week.
But how much of a difference-maker will Roethlisberger be? That depends on his level of play this coming season.
NFL Network analysts and former NFL players Willie McGinest and LaDainian Tomlinson each ranked the quarterbacks of the AFC North and both said they think Roethlisberger is the third-best quarterback in the division, behind Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield.
“I’m not taking anything away from Ben,” McGinest said. “Lamar Jackson is special and I put Baker in front of Ben because of what we’ve seen in the progression of Baker the last couple of years. … I see him getting better and Ben fighting father time, with the skills diminishing just a little bit.”
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) February 25, 2021
“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Tomlinson said. “We’ve seen, in spurts, Big Ben play well. He started out hot. But he didn’t finish so well. … He looked old and beat up toward the end of the season. I’m just not sure that improves.”
Statistically, Roethlisberger finished first amongst the four AFC North passers in completion percentage, but he was fourth in yards per attempt and third in passer rating and QBR. Pro Football Focus ranked Roethlisberger last of the division’s four starters in 2020.
NFL Head Coach: Bud Dupree’s Injury Cause for Uncertainty Entering Free Agency
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree is set to hit free agency in a matter of weeks, but one head coach believes he could be waiting a while to sign.
Speaking with FanSided’s Matt Lombardo, an NFL head coach, speaking anonymously, said Dupree’s season-ending knee injury has made his free agency outlook uncertain.
“Bud Dupree is someone that is a real question mark for me,” the head coach told FanSided. “If he was healthy, he’s easily the top pass-rusher hitting the open market, and teams would pay a king’s ransom to sign him. But, with him coming off a torn ACL, what exactly are you committing to? Does he want to go back to Pittsburgh? Who knows, but he’s someone that I think will wind up having to wait a while to sign.”
Lombardo compares Dupree’s situation to Tennessee Titans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney last offseason.
While he had not suffered a significant injury the season prior with the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks, Clowney signed with Tennessee on just a one-year, $12-million deal. He had been expected to be paid handsomely on a lengthier contract, which obviously did not come to fruition.
Clowney was virtually invisible for the Titans, recording no sacks in eight games before being placed on injured reserve in November.
Due to his torn ACL, Dupree could find himself having to settle on a cheaper, one-year “prove it” deal as well. Ideally he would then cash in during the 2022 free agency period is all goes as planned.
Dupree was having another stellar season before tearing his ACL in the Steelers’ Week 12 win over the Baltimore Ravens. He had eight sacks, eight tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hits and a pair of forced fumbles through eleven games.
After playing last season under the franchise tag, which paid Dupree $15.828 million, the Steelers’ dire salary cap situation will most likely prevent them from bringing him back. Still, the brass of the organization has expressed their desire to do so if circumstances were different.
While the knee injury remains a concern, Dupree shared he was ahead of schedule in his recovery when he joined NFL Network’s Good Morning Football late last month.