Earlier this week, Ben Roethlisberger had critical comments about Pittsburgh’s culture, believing that there was no one who still believed in the Steelers’ way. That echoed what Ryan Clark expressed when he said the same things this week.
“Zero people care about the Steelers Way. Zero people,” Clark said firmly on the Pat McAfee Show on Monday. “So when I say zero, I don’t necessarily mean it literally. You heard Minkah Fitzpatrick say that there are people in that locker room that think just wearing those colors entitles you to wins.”
However, on Wednesday, Stephen A. Smith went to Roethlisberger. He believes his last few years in a Pittsburgh uniform were crucial in the team’s decline. Smith referred to Roethlisberger as a ‘statue’ and that Mike Tomllin’s years in the early 2020s were less fruitful because of Roethlisberger.
“Your hands ain’t clean in all of this.” Smith said. “Aren’t you somewhat responsible for the transitioning as it pertains to culture? Particularly when Mike Tomlin was there? And you’re there… you stayed too long. Last three years in the league, Ben Roethlisberger should have been gone. He was a statue. I’m just saying, if you’re Big Ben Roethlisberger, I thought you stayed a couple of years too long, and I thought you sort of curtailed or stymied the transition so the era would continue offensively, I’m talking about. I don’t think he did enough. I thought he stayed around too long and I didn’t think that he was a person that should have been around.”
Despite back-to-back losses to 2-10 teams at home, the Steelers still hold the No. 6 seed in the AFC Playoff picture. The season can still be salvaged, they just need to take it one game at a time and win on Saturday in Indianapolis. Leaders such as Fitzpatrick, Watt and Heyward can only do so much. They need the rest of the players to buy-in. If not and things continue to unravel, expect sweeping changes with the coaching staff and roster in the 2024 offseason.
As for Roethlisberger’s involvement in this, there are points to Smith’s argument that is true. His play declined quickly but he did help keep the Steelers afloat through the bad offensive coordinator hires and in general, bad play around him when the drafting fell off, too.