Steelers GM defends Big Ben's right to publicly criticize teammates

Cassandra NegleyYahoo Sports Contributor
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/teams/pittsburgh/" data-ylk="slk:Pittsburgh Steelers">Pittsburgh Steelers</a> quarterback <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/6770/" data-ylk="slk:Ben Roethlisberger">Ben Roethlisberger</a> has been criticized for calling out teammates on his radio show. (AP)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been criticized for calling out teammates on his radio show. (AP)

It was a busy day for the black and yellow, as all three Pittsburgh Steelers mega stars were referenced in some way.

Le’Veon Bell is finally an unrestricted free agent after the Steelers announced they won’t use another franchise tag on the running back. Antonio Brown is on the trading block, as the team announced it will make the effort to deal him as long as it gets enough in return.

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As for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, general manager Kevin Colbert gave him a glowing review despite recent reports and talk that the veteran voicing his opinions so publicly was becoming a problem.

GM backs Roethlisberger’s leadership

Media members attending the 30-minute session showcased the GM’s unwavering support of the 15-year veteran who has spent his entire career in Pittsburgh. Colbert was “unprompted” in his words about Roethlisberger during media interviews Wednesday, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and cited the fact he’s the only Super Bowl winner remaining from the 2005 and 2008 seasons.

Ben Roethlisberger is unquestionably the leader of this team,’’ Colbert said, per the Post-Gazette. “Not [just] by my standards, by the standards the team recognizes.”

Jeremy Fowler at ESPN reported that Colbert said Roethlisberger has “52 kids under him quite honestly. I want them to step up and say, ‘Hey Ben, what do I have to do? Can I do this better? What do we have to do to win a Super Bowl?’ ”

Colbert used the Jacksonville game this season as an example of the quarterback’s leadership. The Steelers trailed, 9-0, at halftime and dropped to 16-0 in the third quarter but came back to win, 20-16. The team improved to 7-2-1.


Colbert told reporters the quarterback “grabbed the team right away,” per the Post-Gazette, and took accountability for himself first, then challenged the entire team to do better. He then lived up to his own words.

Roethlisberger ran in the winning score with five seconds left, coming back from a rough first half. He led the league in passing yards with 5,129

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Big Ben under fire for ‘challenging’

Roethlisberger’s weekly radio appearance on 93.7 The Fan became must-listen material for Pittsburgh fans and media like. It’s been a growing source of contention all season as things flew out of control with the city’s three stars.

Brown took to Twitter over the weekend to dish on his relationship with Roethlisberger, and told followers the 36-year-old has an “owner’s mentality” and can call anyone out, including coaches.

It’s far from the first time Roethlisberger’s words have irked teammates. He reportedly “took shots” at Brown in meetings and commonly speaks on his radio show about certain plays and what players should have done.

In November, again on his radio show, Roethlisberger defended his right to be critical of the team as well as himself. The point he made then is similar to the points Colbert mentioned Wednesday.

He’s been there, done that, and maybe the youngsters can start taking notes.

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