The Steelers are trying way too hard to justify quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s habit of calling out teammates publicly.
On Wednesday, G.M. Kevin Colbert explained the situation in a way that goes a long way toward explaining why some players on the team may feel entitled to do whatever they want. We previously shared a small chunk of what Colbert said. It’s worth considering the entire quote.
“Ben is the unquestioned leader of this group,” Colbert told reporters. “Like I said, he’s the elder statesmen and the Super Bowl winner. If our players were smart, they’d listen to him because he’s been there. He’s done it. He can tell them, ‘No guys, what you’re doing is or is not good enough to do this.’ And I honestly believe that that can be a burden on him more often than he may like to admit, because he has to — he’s got 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?’
“I think that once you win it, you’ve got 53 guys who can say what it took. Right now, he’s the only one, so I have no problem with him. He can call me out and that’s fine. What he does, I totally respect because I see him too many times win games for us and come through in situations. That’s why I talked about the Jacksonville game. He brought that team in. It was hot. It was nasty, and they weren’t allowed to get water. It was that immediate. Everybody over here right now. And the speech he made and the challenges he made, he backed up because he played better in the second half. He didn’t play well in the first half, and he said, ‘I’m the first one that needs to look in the mirror, and the rest of you better, too.’ So I have absolutely no problem with him.”
The concept makes sense, but Colbert has allowed Roethlisberger to take it to the extreme. What player has the power to call out the General Manager of the team? Does Roethlisberger also have the power to call out the coach? The owner? Once that line is crossed — and Colbert is encouraging Roethlisberger to leap over it — there’s no going back.
Moreover, there’s a big difference between privately urging players to step up and publicly calling them out. Who in the NFL does that, other than Roethlisberger? What team in the NFL allows that, other than the Steelers?
What are the Steelers doing? Fans of the team, instead of circling the wagons and attacking the messenger, should take a careful look at the message. The message is this: Your favorite team is currently riddled with drama. Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Ben Roethlisberger aren’t the cause of it; they’re the symptoms.
The cause is residing somewhere at or between the coaching staff and ownership. Until that cause is identified and rectified, this names will change by the dysfunction will stay the same.