Ben's Leadership Merely Falls In Line With Today's Franchise Player

Why are national analysts continuing to put all blame on Ben?

Matt Koll
February 22, 2019 - 12:32 pm
Ben Roethlisberger

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Roethlisberger certainly hasn’t had a spotless career. On and off the field.

Motorcycle accident, Milledgeville, I don’t need to go into vivid detail. You know the stories.

I’m sure he’s not spotless in his team leadership skills, either. I can only go off what I’ve seen and heard him do publicly, not what might happen behind closed doors.

He certainly has his intricacies. If he has an injury that he’s playing through and battling, he’s never been afraid to let us know. If he’s unhappy about, say, a member of the coaching staff that coordinates the offense, he’ll fire passive aggressive shots at him by questioning play-calling and---to really get our attention---threaten to retire on “The Ben Roethlisberger Show” on 93.7 The Fan.

It’s really interesting to me that a lot of the national narrative on the Steelers/Antonio Brown nonsense and relationship deterioration has placed the blame on Ben more than anyone else. More than Brown himself.

Marcellus Wiley here is one of many examples…

Among many absurd things with that video, do these guys not realize that this is part of being a franchise player is in today’s sports culture? Surely national analysts can see what’s happened across the sports landscape. What Ben Roethlisberger does and says publicly is not foreign.

Look around the league. Tom Brady has now won the New England Patriots six Super Bowls. He has also restructured his contract (as has Ben) and was a major player in getting Jimmy Garappolo out of the organization. Brady always feels threatened that someone is going to take his job and Jimmy G was the most talented guy behind him during his career. Thus, his biggest threat. Bill Belichick wanted to keep him. Tom did not. Jimmy got shipped out of town.

Aaron Rodgers was upset about the creativity and direction of the offense under Mike McCarthy. Shortly after, when the Packers weren’t winning enough, it was McCarthy that received all the criticism and got the axe. You don’t think Rodgers’ feelings toward him didn’t have something to do with that?

If you cross sports and leagues, which admittedly isn’t always accurate, you’ll find LeBron James. LeBron might as well be listed as “Small Forward/General Manager” on any roster he’s been a part of since he left Cleveland the first time. LeBron is the sounding board for the organization. LeBron decides who he wants around him. LeBron basically told his entire team that he’d rather trade them to go get Anthony Davis this trade deadline. He’s also not been afraid to call out his teammates publicly. In fact, multiple times.

Antonio Brown said something on Twitter in the middle of what has been an apparent mental breakdown that was actually spot on.

“He [Ben> has a owner mentality.”

You’re right, Mr. Big Chest. He does. So does Tom Brady. So does Aaron Rodgers. So does LeBron James.

Why? They’re the most important players on their teams. They’re winners and their front offices allow them that kind of power because they know how important they are to the franchise.

So, yeah, Ben can publicly question whether the Steelers should have drafted Mason Rudolph. Ben can be unhappy with who the offensive coordinator is (Haley) and get his guy in that spot (Fichtner). He can publicly call out his rookie receiver to step up and start making some plays. He can publicly call out his star receiver for his route-running

When you're that important to the team, you're the man in charge. 

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert stated that Ben is the unquestioned leader of the team and that he’s “got 52 kids under him.” While this isn’t exactly the best way to articulate the situation, the point remains; Ben has been there, done that, at the most important position in the game. His teammates have never reached the heights he has. You better hop on the train because Ben is the conductor, whether you like it or not. Colbert is no exception to that and even admitted it himself by saying, “he can call me out and that’s fine.”

You want to win? Fall in line. That’s much of today’s winning franchise athlete.  

This is by NO MEANS a praise of Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership skills. He’s done and said plenty of things I disagree with. But what this should be is a realization that Ben is no different than many other franchise athletes in modern professional sports.

Ben’s style of leadership may not be right, but it surely isn’t a foreign concept. It doesn’t automatically make him a terrible leader as many nationally want to tag him to be and he’s certainly not “the problem” in the Antonio Brown situation.

He’s just really no different than the rest.

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