PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — After an offseason of silence, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is speaking out.
Ben had plenty to say surrounding the events that took place over the last five months for the Steelers, highlighted by missing the playoffs and losing two key pieces in Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.
Big Ben had not spoken publicly since December, so the biggest question that many wondered to this point is why did it take so long?
Part 2 of Bob Pompeani’s interview with Ben Roethlisberger —
“Well, in the offseason, I like to like to just be with family and be away and stay away from the craziness ’cause the media is my life during football season,” Roethlisberger said. “So when I can get a break from it, I try to get a break from it.”
But there was no break from social media, and Antonio Brown used it ultimately secure his trade away from the team that drafted him and made him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL.
With good reason, the Ben to Brown, “Killer B” relationship was unmatched for the past six years with over 100 catches and 74 touchdown passes in every one of those seasons.
At one point, Brown claimed the duo had a “Wifi Connection” and claimed that he loved Big Ben. But that all changed in a matter of weeks, and Ben says he never really got an answer from AB as to why the relationship went sour.
“I’ll start with saying you’re right, AB made me who I am,” Roethlisberger said. “He was the greatest wide receiver I ever played with. The things that he did in this league and that we did together are among the best of all time. And you’re right, there was some great things and then all of a sudden it just kind of, it disappeared and I’m not sure really where it went. We always worked through it, you know? We always came out the other side smiling and hugged it out and enjoyed it and moved on, and this time, I really don’t know.”
Antonio has made it seem like Ben calls him out too much publicly. A lot of the criticism came from the weekly radio show on 93.7 The Fan where people listen while the quarterback has given a unique perspective over the years. Ben does admit he has taken things too far at times.
“It’s a fine line to walk sometimes of giving information out,” Roethlisberger said. “Giving some cool things for the fans to be a part of and maybe saying too much. I know that I took some heat and deservedly so for some of the comments I made on that show and especially towards him. And I genuinely feel bad about that and I’m sorry. Did I go too far after that Denver game? Probably.”
WEB EXTRA: Ben Roethlisberger On His Antonio Brown Comments —
Brown went beyond probably. He took the Denver comments as a personal dig and aired out his grievances on LeBron James’ HBO show “The Shop.”
“All year, the dude called me out. We lose a game, he’s like, yeah, AB should have ran a better route,” Brown said on the show. “That’s the type of guy he is. He feel like he the owner. Bro, you threw that s*** to the d-line, how the f*** am I gonna get it? You need to give me a better ball!”
“I can see where that comment was perceived to be negative towards AB, but it wasn’t meant that way,” Ben said. “It was more, you know, just like everything during the season, it’s a compliment to AB ’cause he’s doubled every single play and that’s why … it’s still so amazing that he was able to do it through all the adversity of double and triple teams. It was more meant that I should have gone to JuJu because he was single covered. I regretted it. That’s the thing about media and social media and things like that, as soon as you say it, sorry only goes so far. You can’t take it back and I wish I could because if that’s what ruined our friendship and our relationship, then I am truly am genuinely sorry about that.”
As the season came to a close and the offseason began, questions from former teammates and national media members came into the forefront regarding Ben’s leadership.
“It was hurtful,” Ben said. “[When some of the comments came out,] they were hurtful. You know, and it was hurtful to myself. It was hurtful for my family. Leadership, ultimately is about winning football games, and I didn’t do a good enough job of being a leader because we didn’t make the playoffs. So I need to reevaluate myself and how can I be a better leader. This year, this offseason, this OTAs, minicamps, training camp. How can I make myself a better leader so that we can win football games, which ultimately leads to hope of playoffs and a super bowl because that at the end of the day that is the ultimate goal. That’s all I want to do is win a championship and everyone else in the locker room, that’s all they want to do too.”
WEB EXTRA: Ben Roethlisberger On His Leadership —
With the “Killer B” era now over, Ben was asked if he had tried to reach out to Brown now that the dust has settled.
“You know, I’ve reached out to him a few times, sent him some messages, called him. I haven’t heard back,” Ben said. “But I’m sure he’s getting busy with his season and getting ready as I am with the guys that we have here. But you know, I really am looking forward to reconnecting with him, talking because, like I said, he’s a good friend of mine. I still call him a good friend. And I hope that we can reconnect and I hope that our friendship can continue to grow.”
WEB EXTRA: Ben Roethlisberger On Life Without Antonio Brown —
With Brown gone, the question becomes who will fill his production on the roster?
“You can’t just say, hey, who’s going to fill his shoes and be AB? Because those are shoes that you can’t fill because of the production and what he brought to the table. Even if he had a game where it was two or three catches for 25 yards, the attention that he attracts, that’s the ultimate respect, right?” Roethlisberger said.
That also means the baton has been passed to JuJu Smith-Schuster, who elevated his game last year. He’ll be called upon to do that again in 2019.
“Now, he’s got another challenge ahead of him. Not just by defenders and his reputation of being a good football player, but by trying to fill shoes and being a number one. I’ve talked to him a lot, I’ve been around him a lot this offseason, and I think he’s up to the challenge. He’s excited and he’s working his butt off to be that guy,” Roethlisberger said.
Part 2 of Bob Pompeani’s interview with Ben Roethlisberger —
Right now, Roethlisberger will be the guy under center for the next three years after his latest extension, which places him among the top quarterbacks in the game.
“I was excited, obviously, I love it here. I feel great. My body feels great and my arm feels strong. And I love the team that we have. So I was humbled and honored to have the opportunity to be here for three more years. I’ve always fulfilled my contract with the Steelers. So I’m going to give them everything I have for three years, and at the end of that, we’ll talk again and see what happens … But I’m going to give them everything I have for these three years and try to bring some Lombardi’s home,” Roethlisberger said.
Ben hinted that another contract could still be on the way, but he did not fully commit to it.
“It could be, but I’m not going to say yes or no. I’m going to say that I’ve got three years to give everything I have to this team and this city,” he said.
WEB EXTRA: Ben Roethlisberger On His Future With The Team —
Ben also is not sure whether or not the radio show will return for another season on 93.7 The Fan.
“Honestly, I haven’t made a final decision yet. You know, we talk a lot about it with my family, with my agents and the Steelers. I think people like it. People like that I can give them some inside access and things like that, and so we’ll make a final decision some point moving forward. And I think if we do it, it will be the best that we have ever done, and if we don’t, there will be reason for that too,” Roethlisberger said.