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Ben Roethlisberger Focused on Leadership in Wake of Antonio Brown Flap

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PITTSBURGH — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has faced a torrent of public criticism since the end of the 2018 season for, among other things, his leadership style and his relationship with former wide receiver Antonio Brown.

Brown has been critical of Roethlisberger since he left the team, saying that Roethlisberger had an “owner mentality” and felt that the relationship between the two could have been better.

“I would’ve liked for me and Ben to be cool. I thought we was cool,” Brown said to ESPN over the offseason. “When I think, I been to his house one time, he’s been to my house one time. We don’t work out in the offseason. It’s like, yo, if we really want to win, you think that’s winning? That’s not winning, that’s not winning culture.”

In an interview with KDKA on Monday, Roethlisberger apologized for criticizing Brown publicly last season. He said on Tuesday that he needs to be a better leader.

“When you’re talking leadership, you’re talking relationships,” he said. “In this sport, relationships change on a yearly basis because guys are here and gone. So you have to do your best to try and realize what it takes for each guy to develop the best relationship that you can.”

Part of that has been done off the field, as Roethlisberger restarted a tradition of taking the skill position players out on his boat in the spring. Part of it involves being more present at OTAs this year, which Roethlisberger says he plans on doing.

“I think that’s part of what last weekend was,” he said. “Some of the guys getting together. A lot of people think it’s just about football and understanding the depth and how to throw to a guy, but sometimes you have to understand the person, too. When you can understand the person, you can understand how the like certain passes and how to have fun together.”

But the biggest part of it, at least according to Roethlisberger, is to get the team back to its winning ways.

“When it comes to leadership and things like that, we didn’t make the playoffs last year,” he said “We didn’t win our division. I lacked in leadership, because that’s my job as the leader of this team: to get us to the playoffs. So, I’m going to need to focus and re-focus my energy and time on ‘How can I be a better leader to get us back to the playoffs?’”

NFL

Steelers Connections Abound in Chiefs-Buccaneers Super Bowl

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While the Pittsburgh Steelers saw their Super Bowl LV hopes dashed two weeks ago, fans will recognize plenty of familiar faces when the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet on Feb. 7.

Six players with Steelers ties are expected to take the field in either red or pewter on Super Bowl Sunday, with the two most notable examples being Tampa Bay wide receiver Antonio Brown and Kansas City running back Le’Veon Bell.

Both missed their respective championship games due to injury, but could return to health in time for the Super Bowl with two weeks to recover.

In addition, the Chiefs also boast guard Stefen Wisniewski and punter Dustin Colquitt, who both spent time in Pittsburgh earlier this season.

Wisniewski is in line to make his second-straight Super Bowl start in response to injuries along the Chiefs’ offensive line suffered Sunday, while Colquitt is on Kansas City’s practice squad.

Former Steelers defensive back Ross Cockrell and nose tackle Steve McLendon will take the field for the Buccaneers defensively.

But Tampa Bay’s Pittsburgh connections do not stop on the field, as the Buccaneers will also have six coaches with Steeler ties on the sideline for the big game, including head coach Bruce Arians.

Arians, who is in his second season in Tampa, spent eight years in Pittsburgh, serving as wide receivers coach (2004-06) before being elevated to offensive coordinator (2007-11).

Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich played under Arians in Pittsburgh, and had three separate stints with the Steelers as a backup quarterback to Ben Roethlisberger.

Tampa Bay also boasts assistant head coach and run game coordinator Harold Goodwin, outside linebackers coach Larry Foote, offensive assistant Antwaan Randle El and assistant coach Tom Moore.

Even with the Steelers at home watching along with the rest of the country, Pittsburgh should have no shortage of rooting interests when the Chiefs meet the Buccaneers in Tampa in two weeks time.

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Steelers

Report: Steelers OL Coach Candidate Hank Fraley Retained in Detroit

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Former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Hank Fraley will reportedly be retained as the Detroit Lions’ offensive line coach, according to the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett.

Pittsburgh reportedly interviewed Fraley last Thursday for their offensive line coach vacancy, but he has opted to remain with Detroit under new head coach Dan Campbell.

Fraley was a standout at Robert Morris before signing with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2000. He was waived prior to the season, but played ten seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams. Fraley has spent the last two seasons as Detroit’s offensive line coach.

Pittsburgh’s search for their next offensive coordinator and line coach continues. The Steelers chose not to retain Randy Fichtner and Shaun Sarrett earlier this month.

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Steelers

Report: Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey Has Told Teammates He’ll Retire

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Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has told teammates that he will retire, according to a report by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Former Steelers guard Ramon Foster, now of DK Pittsburgh Sports, reported on Jan. 12 that Pouncey was “50-50” on whether he would return for the 2021 season.

The 31-year-old Pouncey just finished his 11th season in the NFL, all of which have been with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has one year remaining on his contract, which would pay him $14.475 million if he returns. Just $6.475 million of that is guaranteed. The Steelers would save $8 million in cap space if he retires.

Pouncey made the Pro Bowl for the ninth time in 2020 and has also been a five-time Associated Press All-Pro. He was also a member of the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team, largely giving him Hall of Fame credentials.\

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