To his credit, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley seems to be changing.
Long reputed to be a tough guy to get along with, Haley is working hard to have a good relationship with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Even if that means looking the other way in response to a clear diss from Big Ben.
“That was an emotional game,” Haley said regarding Roethlisberger’s complaints about play calling after an overtime loss to the Cowboys, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Whatever was said can’t be taken too much to the heart because that’s the way this game is. Guys will get into it in locker rooms, in the building, on the practice field. It’s the mindset you get into when you’re getting ready to compete and coach a big game. There’s emotion involved. I wouldn’t really pay much attention to anything that’s said in an emotional state of mind.”
Of course, Haley’s observation also can be regarded as an advance excuse/explanation for anything he may say “in an emotional state of mind” in the future. In that same vein, Haley possibly has provided a pre-apology for any arguments or incidents that could unfold on the sidelines with Ben, or anyone else.
“I think healthy conflict, discussion, banter is good because it gets you to the right place and gets everyone on the same page and where you need to be,” Haley said. “Like I’ve said a number of times when I make a call into Ben’s ear in the game I’m putting complete faith in him to make it the best call it can be. The same goes for him. When he hears my voice he has to trust and believe that the play coming is giving us the best chance to succeed. You develop that in these Sunday battles against other teams. That’s where it develops with the trust and camaraderie. That’s what’s occurred. There will be ups and downs because there’s emotion and a lot at stake every week. We put a lot of time, effort and sacrifice into this. I think a little bit of healthy conflict is a good thing.”
Still, conflict best occurs behind closed doors, away from the eyes and ears of the media. Roethlisberger shouldn’t have taken a public slap at the play calling, and Haley’s decision to take the high road shouldn’t become a license to do the same at some point in the future.