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T.J. Watt Responds to Big Ben’s Criticism on Steelers Culture

T.J. Watt believes it’s hard for anyone, even Steelers legends, to know what is going on inside their locker room.



Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt celebrates a sack against the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 16, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

During the 2023 season, there was an entire discussion about the Steelers’ culture and tradition and how it might deteriorate after former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger commented on his podcast, Footbahlin, on how the tradition could be dying out with the team accepting only mediocrity.

“Maybe the tradition of the Pittsburgh Steelers is done,” Roethlisberger said. “Who is grabbing someone by the face mask and saying, ‘That’s not what we do.’ Is that happening? Yes, you have guys on defense doing it, but you need guys on both sides of the ball doing it. You need someone to stand up in that room, on offense, and be like, ‘Hey, this isn’t what it means to wear the black and gold.”

Those whispers reached back to the Steelers locker room. Ryan Clark even said that ‘zero people’ care about the tradition in the locker room. During Super Bowl week, T.J. Watt was asked about his comments but shrugged it off.

“It is all about the guys in the locker room and it’s hard for people on the outside to truly get a feel for what’s going on in the inside and we just have to come together as a unit and understand that we’re not going to solve our problems listening everybody on the outside,” Watt said in an interview with Yahoo Sports.

Cam Heyward did live through the tradition during the young part of his career. He knows what the Steelers’ way is and how it operates. He disagrees with Roethlisberger’s criticism of the culture and thinks the team can quickly correct it with a win. Heyward thinks their two losses to the Cardinals and Patriots were slip-ups.

Ben has an opinion, and he’s entitled to that, but I don’t agree,” Heyward said on Good Morning Football. “We lost these last two games, and it’s been rough. But the Steelers way is about grinding it out and it doesn’t matter what’s going on. So, there is plenty to be done about it, and the tradition starts by winning games, having good defense, scoring points. So, hopefully we can adjust to that this week.”

Naturally, the team did rebound down the stretch to end up back in the playoffs. They still have not won a playoff game since 2016, though, and that is a milestone that they obviously will look to change moving forward.