Ben Roethlisberger defends his right to publicly criticize teammates

Yahoo Sports

Ben Roethlisberger made some waves when he was critical of some teammates and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner after the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to the Denver Broncos, and he’ll create some more headlines by defending his right to do it.

On his weekly appearance with 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger said Antonio Brown could have run a better route on a late interception, that Fichtner should have called four straight plays to JuJu Smith-Schuster on the team’s final drive, and that rookie James Washington was “not going to be out there” if he had plays like his dropped pass against Denver. 

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That’s a lot to unload in one interview. It’s rare to see a quarterback call out teammates or coaches in the media, but Roethlisberger has often spoken his mind before.

And before everyone dumps back on Roethlisberger, his explanation Wednesday did make sense.

Ben Roethlisberger said he was motivating teammates

According to, Roethlisberger didn’t back down from his comments.

“I think I have earned the right to be able to do that with as long as I have been here,” Roethlisberger said, “and I’ll just be just as critical of myself [in the media], as well.”

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger defended his right to criticize teammates. (AP)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger defended his right to criticize teammates. (AP)

Roethlisberger has criticized his own play before, so he has a point there. And it’s not like what he said was out of line. It’s hard to argue with any of it. And Roethlisberger’s reasoning was that he wasn’t just taking shots to do it, he was trying to motivate.

“Being around for a long time with a lot of different players,” Roethlisberger said, via TribLive. “You have to know how to motivate different guys in different ways. I think that’s part of being a leader, being a captain, just understanding players. Sometimes you just grab them off to the side, and sometimes you have to be honest with them.”

Roethlisberger said he has the right to be critical

When Roethlisberger was asked what his teammates think of him criticizing them publicly, he replied, “Go ask them. I have no idea.”

While Roethlisberger’s “earned the right” clip will get the most attention, is he wrong? He’s a six-time Pro Bowler, a two-time Super Bowl champion and likely going to the Hall of Fame. Quarterbacks throughout time have had uncomfortable confrontations with teammates to get results. In his 15th season, Roethlisberger probably has earned that right, even if getting on them publicly is unusual. 

“I would hope that they would understand that as the quarterback and the captain that I have the right to do those things,” Roethlisberger said, via TribLive. “I don’t feel like I abuse that situation. So I don’t think it’s an issue, but you would have to ask them.”

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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