Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders ruffled some feathers in Pittsburgh when he said last month that he thinks his new quarterback, Peyton Manning, is a better leader than his old quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. Ordinarily, when a player’s comments get him in hot water, he quickly backtracks and claims he was misquoted or misunderstood or misconstrued or taken out of context, or he offers a mealy-mouthed apology, if anyone was offended.
So it’s refreshing to hear Sanders stand by what he said.
“I have not one regret. If I said it then I meant it,” Sanders said on NFL Network.
Sanders made clear that he isn’t trying to insult Roethlisberger, but he was asked a question about Manning’s leadership and answered it honestly: In the opinion of Sanders, Manning is a better leader than Roethlisberger, and for that matter a better leader than any other teammate Sanders has ever had.
“It wasn’t meant as disrespect for anyone. I’ve got so much love for everybody over there in Pittsburgh, and they know it — they know me. I didn’t mean any harm,” Sanders said. “It’s just how Peyton is treating everybody out here, I’ve never seen somebody lead the way that he leads. That’s no diss to Ben. That’s just saying that, of every football team that I’ve played on, he’s the best leader I’ve seen. And everyone in the world knows that — when it comes to Peyton Manning, they know that he’s going to study, he’s going to do the right thing, he’s going to be where he’s supposed to be. That was just all meant for Peyton.”
Sanders was criticized by former teammate Antonio Brown, but Sanders said there’s no animosity between himself and his old teammates, even though he hasn’t spoken to them recently.
“I haven’t talked to those guys. A.B. called a couple days ago but I’ve been so busy,” he said. “But A.B. and all those guys, they know that we’re brothers, they know that it’s all good. They know me, they know there are no hard feelings and I have no hard feelings toward them. I play for the Denver Broncos but I’ve still got so much love for Steeler Nation and the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
And with that, Sanders accomplished something rare: He offered a clearheaded, reasonable explanation of his comments, without falling back on the old excuse of claiming he hadn’t said what he said, or claiming he hadn’t meant what he meant.