Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t always lauded as a model teammate during his 18-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. His early success led to actions (and allegations) that many would classify as immature, reckless, and arrogant. Incurring league discipline in the form of a four-game suspension to begin the 2010 season did seem to calm the embattled signal-caller down some, at least in terms of off-field actions.
But Roethlisberger was never one to bite his tongue. Particularly later on in his career, he’d provide the media with plenty of juicy sound bites. The two-time Super Bowl champ was not afraid to be candid when interviewed, even if that meant being critical of teammates or even higher-ups.
Ben Roethlisberger Admits To Rooting Against Steelers QB Kenny Pickett
That trait has continued into retirement. The only difference now is Roethlisberger, co-host of the “Footbahlin” podcast, can choose the subject. And with his direct successor, Kenny Pickett, as his guest … Roethlisberger gave a doozy of a sound bite to all of his listeners as well as to the second-year signal-caller who followed him.
Per Steelers Depot’s Alex Kozora, “I’ll be completely honest,” Roethlisberger said. “And I’ll be super transparent here, and I’m gonna get blasted. I probably shouldn’t say this, but I mean, who cares at this point?
“I wouldn’t say that I wanted Kenny to necessarily fail, but when someone comes to replace you, and I still feel like I had it. Like, I hope he doesn’t come ball-out, because then it’s like, ‘Ben who?'”
As noted above, Roethlisberger’s never been afraid to speak his piece. And he’s worn his share of the blame plenty of times after a bad outing. But sometimes, when he served up a particularly juicy quote, it could seem like the six-time Pro Bowler was maybe deflecting a bit. But in this instance, Roethlisberger was owning his selfishness.
He’s right that this quote may draw him some negative attention. But what Roethlisberger said shouldn’t be wholly surprising. In fact, it seems fair to say Roethlisberger should be commended for his honesty. After being at the top of his profession for nearly two decades, it can’t be easy to transition out and especially not to see your immediate successor excel. It’d likely make one feel, well, replaceable.
To Roethlisberger’s credit, he would go on to admit that, as the 2022 season wore on, he would become a bigger supporter of Pickett’s burgeoning career.
“As you started playing, I found myself rooting more and more for you. You know what I’m saying?,” Roethlisberger said. “We sat down here and watched games, and we were high-fiving, going nuts when you were leading the team and doing things.”
It can’t be easy to transition from ultra-competitor to retirement. That’s why the remaining members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins pop champagne every year when the last undefeated team takes a loss. It’s good to be (one of) the best.
But by softening his stance on, and later even rooting for Pickett, the man known as “Big Ben” took a big step into that transition.