A wise man once said… nothing at all.
There’s been a heavy firestorm (for lack of better terms) of negative media attention towards the Pittsburgh Steelers organization this off-season. Whether it be the drama surrounding the Antonio Brown trade, the parting of Le’Veon Bell or even comments from former teammates on the current state of the team, it appears most of the blame for Pittsburgh’s problems can be traced back to the only player with a Super Bowl ring under their belt… quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger has seen more than his fair share of criticism entering his sixteenth season in the NFL, for events unfolding both on and off the field. Whether it be the alleged sexual assault allegations, the concern of forced interceptions or theories of Roethlisberger faking injuries to only come back late and play the role of hero, Ben has received criticism through most of his career, whether it was deserved or not.
Yet the latest onslaught on Big Ben’s leadership might be the worst of the storm, as former teammates who once embraced Roethlisberger’s style of play and leadership are now stepping to microphones to let the world know how they really feel. The two biggest proponents of the shift in Ben’s spotlight derive from two superstars he shared the field with just two years ago in Bell/Brown, both now on new teams for 2019.
“The organization wants to win. Tomlin wants to win. Ben wants to win” said Bell to Sports Illustrated in late March after signing with the New York Jets. “But Ben wants to win his way, and that’s tough to play with. Ben won a Super Bowl, but he won when he was younger. Now he’s at this stage where he tries to control everything, and [the team] let him get there.”
Brown’s comments on Roethlisberger were more vocal, as he took to the world of Twitter to let everybody know his thoughts on Ben.
No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect! He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can’t say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It’s a dirty game within a game. #truth https://t.co/MsSyBVd3Ny
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 16, 2019
Throw in a mix of running backs (Rashard Mendenhall and Josh Harris) and thus rests four players taking jabs at Roethlisberger. Yet the players aren’t alone in wanting to put their two cents in about Ben, as those in the media haven’t been shy towards Big Ben either.
“Ben doesn’t never say, ‘I played bad.’ He’s always willing to put the blame at someone else’s feet. Tom Brady has never done that. … All @AB84 did was give you a glimpse into what’s really causing the conflict and its’ no accountability.” — @ShannonSharpe pic.twitter.com/8AT6TzNiHF
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) February 18, 2019
One could find copious amounts of slander directed towards Ben online. By this point, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that Ben isn’t the most well-liked player in the league. With seemingly everybody and their mother giving their opinion on him, it would be of great ease for Roethlisberger to come out and publicly state his side of multiple stories he’s been thrown into. With the consistent stream of negativity surrounding his name, how has Roethlisberger retaliated?
By not saying a single word. Zero. Zilch. Nada. If silence were golden, Ben may have enough gold to make entire governments envious.
As the dust continues to settle, Roethlisberger’s silence grows more significant by the day. The ability to take the PR equivalent of a twelve round bout with a prime Mike Tyson and not retaliate in the slightest has proven to be the Steelers’ most efficient defense to what has been arguably the most controversial off-season in modern franchise history. Rather than add fuel to the fire by defending himself, the high road of silence prevails as the Steelers continue their efforts to get back to playoff football after missing the postseason in 2018. Two wrongs don’t make a right, after all. Should Roethlisberger fire back, how much better of a reaction would he receive as opposed to his counterparts? Any extra attention drawn to Ben or the Steelers is bad attention for a locker room trying to unite itself as one.
While the case of Roethlisberger v. Everybody has yet to see Ben make an appearance on the stand, that’s not to say others have failed to do-so.
ESPN’s Ryan Clark, who won Super Bowl XLIII with Roethlisberger, has not shied away from criticizing Ben in the past as he transitioned from player to journalist. However, Clark was quick to come to Ben’s defense when some choice comments were made about his character.
The whole debacle involving Josh Harris accusing Roethlisberger of purposely fumbling the football late in a game? Former Steelers second string quarterback Bruce Gradkowski stepped up to the plate and gave a video assessment of the specific play Harris references, essentially closing any argument those who believe Ben would intentionally fumble had.
Ben’s leadership? Look no further than the man who’s taken nearly every snap from Roethlisberger for the last nine seasons.
Thus we are brought to present day, under two weeks left until the 2019 NFL Draft. The Steelers are believed to have found the heir to Ben’s throne in either Josh Dobbs or Mason Rudolph, as Roethlisberger’s days appear to be coming to a close despite reports concerning a contract extension. Roethlisberger’s legacy will see him go down as the greatest quarterback to ever suit up for the Steelers, yet his image won’t be viewed without a few blemishes.
Roethlisberger hasn’t always handled things the right way. There has indeed existed times where Roethlisberger hasn’t shouldered the blame, a duty usually reserved for the quarterback regardless of the situation. Hosting a weekly radio show has stirred quite the controversy in years past, stretching even to the days when Emmanuel Sanders was a member of the organization. With talks of Roethlisberger potentially putting an end to his weekly segments, it appears as if Ben heard the message loud and clear: Outside noise is not needed in the Steelers locker room.
It’s been quite the off-season for Ben Roethlisberger. After months of letting others spew their thoughts, it appears Roethlisberger will take to the field and let his play do the talking.
Steelers Coaches Return to Team Facility
With the NFL announcing that coaching staffs can return to team facilities, the Steelers wasted no time getting back to work.
Steelers coaches, including head coach Mike Tomlin, returned to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Friday morning.
Back in the building— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 5, 2020
With Pennsylvania switching over to the “Green Phase” of its COVID-19 reopening plan Friday, the Steelers were one of the organization permitted to welcome back their staffs, but only if they adhere to local and state guidelines.
The team shared a few photos of Tomlin entering the facility, including an image of the 14-year head coach getting his temperature taken in the lobby. Daily checks are clearly part of the league’s protocols with regards to reopening.
To this point, the bulk of the NFL’s offseason has been conducted remotely, including the Draft and free agency.
Tomlin is most likely excited to return to some sense of normalcy. He discussed how challenging the adjustment had been on a conference call last month.
“We face a lot of challenges, my mentality, and the group mentality is going to be they are challenges that everyone faces,” said Tomlin. “From that standpoint it’s going to be fair and the playing field is going to be level. We have to be light on our feet. There is going to be a period of adjustment from a scheduling standpoint as we gain our footing in terms of logistics of what day-to-day looks like and things of that nature.”
“The entire National Football League will be going through it and I just think if we perform relatively better than others, we put ourselves in position to be that team at the end of the journey. That is always our mentality regarding the start of a season.”
The only team employees that had previously been allowed in facilities were athletic trainers and rehabbing players.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has not yet announced when all player will be permitted to return, but did note in his memo to clubs Thursday that the league is first attempting to finalize their COVID-19 testing program.
NFL Announces Coaches can Return to Team Facilities
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has announced that coaching staffs may return to team facilities Friday, June 5 in a memo issued to teams Thursday morning.
Here is the crux of the memo that just went out to teams from the NFL regarding coaches being back in the building safely. Still no players, but a reason for optimism. pic.twitter.com/A8LyqqHJK3— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 4, 2020
Staying consistent with their message throughout the reopening process, coaches may return only if clubs have “received necessary permission from state and local governments.”
Clubs were informed last week that coaches will count towards the maximum number of employees permitted in facilities, but the total number allowed will increase from 75 to 100 tomorrow as well.
While Goodell has not yet announced when all players will be cleared to return, he did add that the league is still working “with clubs medical staffs to implement a program of COVID-19 testing” prior to players coming back.
Injured and rehabbing players were some of the first who received the green light to return to team facilities, and have been back for a few weeks now.
Club facilities were initially closed by the league back on March 25 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While coaches are likely eager to return to their team facilities, they should make themselves comfortable for the long haul.
Goodell’s memo comes a day after multiple reports that the league informed franchises they must conduct training camp from their practice facilities this August.
This would mean the Steelers will be prepping for the season on the South Side, instead of making a 55th-consecutive trip to St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Art Rooney II, Steelers Issue Statements on Killing of George Floyd, Protests
Pittsburgh Steelers team president Art Rooney II released a statement Wednesday on the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and the ensuing protests seen across the nation.
“Over the last week, we have witnessed the anger and frustration in our city and around the country relating to the killing of George Floyd and the recent deaths of African-American men and women. We have also witnessed the good in so many people who have peacefully expressed their concerns.”
“I am proud to hear the voices of many of our players who have spoken out against racism and injustice and called for unity. As an organization, we will continue to listen to our players, coaches, alumni and leaders in our community and work together to bring awareness and change in the effort to create a more fair and equal community.”
A number of prominent Steelers players also shared statements and comments regarding Floyd’s death and the nationwide protests, including Cam Heyward, Ben Roethlisberger, James Conner, Vince Williams, JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.J. Watt.
Defensive end Cam Heyward:
“A friend, a brother, a father, a son, just someone you meet, these are different ways people might know George Floyd. To know that the color of my skin could be at the discretion of someone who is supposed to protect is truly disheartening. I’m praying for the Floyd family.”
“To know a brother, a friend or someone I care about could be gone due to this just hurts. It’s not acceptable. Thank you for the people who do serve the right way and continue to protect our freedoms. I wish all held up his end and cared for all.”
“We all have people we care about and the fact that we can’t believe in everyone who is in the position of power to keep all safe angers me and tears me up. Change must happen. Our children are inheriting a world that is not improving. Life should be precious.”
“I still can’t find my words to make sense of it all. Too many have died, and not enough has changed.”
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger:
“The cruelty and injustice must stop, racism must end, and love must find a way to prevail. We are all children of God, equal in his eyes, and must hold one another accountable to fair and just standards.”
Running back James Conner:
“If we keep showing hate and violence, we will continue to have hate and violence. If we keep showing peace and love, we will have peace and love. I’ve retweeted disturbing and negative videos to HOPE they understand, but I will only be posting love from here on out. We know what’s been done and know it’s wrong.
“Make the Twitter timeline full of positivity. Like I said, I’ve been guilty of retweeting negative content, but that’s not it. They want the sickening and shameless videos at 100,000+ retweets to keep us divided. Make unity and togetherness the only content we see.”
Inside linebacker Vince Williams:
“Send me the GoFundMe of businesses that have been destroyed by the riots. I’ve done independent searches, but hopefully this helps me to be more thorough.”
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster:
“Our country is in pain right now, and coming together is the only way to heal each other. No more injustice!”
Outside linebacker T.J. Watt: