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Big Ben hurt by Emmanuel Sanders saying Peyton Manning was better leader

Eric Edholm
Shutdown Corner
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, left, talks with head coach Mike Tomlin during NFL football training camp  in Latrobe, Pa., on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, left, talks with head coach Mike Tomlin during NFL football training camp in Latrobe, Pa., on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 . (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Emmanuel Sanders left the Pittsburgh Steelers for more money and a better opportunity, he felt, with the Denver Broncos as a free agent this offseason.

But he also can't help but notice one other difference: the leadership quotient of the two quarterbacks in each city. Sanders spoke last week about how Peyton Manning was a better leader than Ben Roethlisberger, and then Sanders stuck by his initial word.

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Here was Sanders' first statement on Manning and Big Ben, via 104.3 The Fan in Denver:

“I feel like Peyton is a far better leader, in terms of staying after practice, catching balls, wanting guys to get on the same page with him, things of that sort,” Sanders said. “This is the first time that I’ve had a quarterback that every single day after practice — no matter what his accolades: NFL MVP, Super Bowl ring — he keeps guys like me and [rookie wide receiver Cody] Latimer after practice.

"He’s not one of those guys you’ve got to chase down. He’s going to be right in the same spot, ready to work, every single day. I just feel like that’s a difference from a mental standpoint.”

Sanders, who played his first four seasons in the NFL with the Steelers, then went on NFL Network, was asked about the quote and didn't back down a bit. Good for him, if that's what he believes.

“I have not one regret. If I said it, then I meant it,” he said. "It wasn’t meant as disrespect for anyone. I’ve got so much love for everybody over there in Pittsburgh, and they know it — they know me. I didn’t mean any harm.”

Roethlisberger, predictably, was nonplussed at the comments.

“He’s going to say whatever he can about the quarterback he is with,” Roethlisberger said, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I was more disappointed he didn’t reach out to me. I know he told some other guys: ‘You know I love Ben, I didn’t mean it like that.’ I wish he would have reached out to me and just say that and I would have been fine with it.”

Sanders, in fact, did say initially that he loved Ben — just that Peyton was the better leader.

Roethlisberger disputed the claim and told the media Wednesday he enjoyed the teaching aspect of his job as a pseudo coach on the field, helping to get his young receivers on the same page with him and the rest of the offense.

"It's been fun it's something that I need to do and want to do." Roethlisberger said after Thursday's joint practice with the Buffalo Bills. "The coach can tell them what they're supposed to do, but if I tell them what I want them to do it's a big difference. It's been a good [training camp] in that sense."

What Sanders did not say was that Roethlisberger was a bad leader. But sometimes it's what guys don't say ... well, you know.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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