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?’”