The Pittsburgh Steelers struggled through a disappointing 8-8 season last year, which is quite uncharacteristic for one of the NFL’s most successful franchises. As if the team did not already have enough issues to work through in order to get back to the playoffs next season, the coaches and players have also had to deal with anonymous teammates ripping one another.
Last week, former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said he believes the team is in “total disarray” and lacks leadership. Ben Roethlisberger took offense to his former teammate’s assertion.
“For anybody to say there are locker room issues or leadership issues are completely off base,” Roethlisberger said Thursday, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I believe that’s the frustration. I believe that it’s frustration of last year, I honestly do.”
Ward’s criticism was aimed at the fact that an anonymous Steelers player reportedly blasted linebacker LaMarr Woodley for having poor workout habits that led to his inability to stay healthy. Ward said that type of loose-lipped spouting off would have never happened when he was with the team.
“Obviously, last year was frustrating for all of us, and when you’re frustrated and the season doesn’t go the way you want it to and things don’t go the way you want them to, things are said,” Roethlisberger continued. “I know all too well, after the Dallas game I was frustrated and said some things. The important thing to know is, there are no issues in our locker room. There are no issues with LaMarr. There are no issues on our team.”
That can’t be completely true. Unless the person who ripped Woodley has come forward and apologized, there’s always going to be some sort of tension in the locker room. Imagine sitting in a room with 50 guys knowing one of them criticized you to the media and wondering who it could be. That’s always going to be an issue on some level, but Roethlisberger said he is going to commit to being more vocal to avoid similar situations in the future.
“I’m hoping by doing this to put a stop to it, to say, listen, everybody, as a leader in this locker room, as a guy who has been around here for a long time, I’m hoping that by saying there is no issue and this is fine, that this could be our exclamation point,” he said. “Let’s move on with this offseason, to training, to getting ready. I don’t think there’s a reason to look back anymore.
“That’s what I’m hoping to just say: Done.”
There are always going to be minor issues with a team internally throughout the season and offseason, but Pittsburgh needs to leave the anonymous bashing to teams like the New York Jets. If you have something to say, do so in private or at least attach your name to it. Anonymity only creates drama and feeds the media.
Helmet smack to Pro Football Talk
Photo credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
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