Ben Roethlisberger recently expressed a desire for the Steelers to acquire a tall receiver, which, at least to me, doesn't sound like an unreasonable request. As it turns out, though, it made Hines Ward so mad that he's vowed to never again taste Big Ben's Beef Jerky.
In Ben's defense, he didn't make the request in any kind of a way that was disparaging to the Steelers current receivers. In fact, he went out of his way to make the point that he liked them:
"I'm always going to ask for a tall receiver," Roethlisberger said in an interview with the Post-Gazette. "That's just me. Our receivers are unbelievable, but our tallest guy might be Hines. Or Santonio [Holmes]. Hines is going to say he's 6 foot, but he's 5-11."
That doesn't sound so inflammatory. But here are some of the things that Hines told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in response:
"I don't hear Tom Brady or Peyton Manning asking for that."
"I don't know, whatever he says. I have no idea. To me, it's a rare combination of receivers out there who are good and tall. We won a Super Bowl, we didn't have a tall receiver then. I don't see Tom Brady caring about who's tall or not. He got Randy this year, but he did it before without him.''
"To me, I have enough problems to worry about than what Ben wants -- I can't give him the contract. He wants a tall receiver? Why did we draft Santonio [Holmes]?"
Uh-oh ... someone's got a little man complex. That seems like a gross overreaction to an innocuous statement about a preference for a receiver with some height.
I'll say this for Ben, too: When he did play alongside Plaxico Burress with the Steelers, Plax made a ton of plays for him. Any time Ben got in trouble, he'd scramble, and it seemed like he always ended up looking for Plax downfield. They made a lot of plays that way.
Not that I don't enjoy the public sniping, but I think Hines is just going to have to get over this one. I think it's obvious, judging from the number of times that Rothelisberger throws Ward's way, that Roethlisberger likes him and thinks he's a good receiver.
So Ben likes tall guys ... so what? that doesn't mean you aren't special in your own way, Hines. It's not you, it's Ben. It's about what he's going through right now. At this point in his life, he just wants to be with someone who doesn't have to sit on seven phone books to be able to drive. I'm sure you two can still be friends.
• Ward blindsided by Big Ben's comments / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette