Some former Pittsburgh Steelers teammates are kicking Ben Roethlisberger(notes) while he's down, telling ESPN that Roethlisberger wasn't well-liked in the locker room while they were there.
Kelly Naqi did a story for ESPN's "Outside the Lines" over the weekend, focusing on Roethlisberger's image and reputation. She talked to former Steelers running back Najeh Davenport(notes), former Steelers safety about Mike Logan(notes) and some other people around the area. Here are some of the highlights.
• Davenport estimated that about 60 percent of the locker room felt like Roethlisberger thought he was "bigger than the team" and not focused on winning.
• Davenport also discussed a time when Joey Porter(notes) called out Roethlisberger in a team meeting for being the last one in to practice and the first one to leave. Porter also accused Roethlisberger of not being dedicated to the team and criticized him for not fraternizing with his teammates.
• Mike Logan confirmed the incident where Porter addressed Roethlisberger and said that all the things Porter mentioned were already being talked about in the locker room.
• Someone identified only as "a close friend of a Steelers player" said that the reason Roethlisberger had a bodyguard was because of an incident where a man put a gun to Roethlisberger's head because Roethlisberger was involved with the man's girlfriend.
• Naqi spoke with people who work at Pittsburgh bars and nightclubs, and they described Ben as someone who was condescending to the staffs and rude to other customers. One bar owner said Roethlisberger always expected he and his entourage to be given free food and drinks.
Roethlisberger wouldn't talk to ESPN for the story. Neither would Joey Porter. Roethlisberger did release a statement today about his suspension, though, apologizing to his teammates and fans, and vowing to comply with the terms of the suspension.
This is the kind of report that wouldn't ever see the light of day if there weren't some other dastardly story about the guy. That's not to say that it isn't true -- Kelly Naqi's a fine reporter -- but is it a big deal? Should we care?
After all, no one said anything about Roethlisberger-related locker room troubles when the Steelers were winning Super Bowls. Maybe this is just a mountain-out-of-a-molehill thing that surfaces now because it's convenient and fits the "Roethlisberger as dirtball" narrative.
If there's any practical issue here, I think it's this: If Roethlisberger has to mend some fences in the Steelers locker room, perhaps it'll be even tougher than expected. If someone didn't like him before the sexual assault allegations, it's hard to imagine they'll warm up to the guy now, no matter what he does.
We'll just have to wait and see how that plays out. Locker rooms have been divided over less.
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