Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has ruffled the feathers of old teammates over his “coddled” comments, including captain Cameron Heyward, who said the remarks “rub me the wrong way.”
Heyward, who’s been with the team since 2011, addressed Roethlisberger’s criticism on an episode of his podcast “Not Just Football” on Wednesday. He disagreed with Roethlisberger’s “me-first” evaluation and the apparent attack on a team he called home for nearly two decades.
“Man, they rubbed me the wrong way,” Heyward said. “Ben is a Hall of Fame quarterback and he has played 18 years in our league, all with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was a little bit upset about it because I was always raised to protect the locker room. Protect the guys … It looks as though we’re looked at as selfish players, and I think that’s not the point.”
STEELERS’ BEN ROETHLISBERGER TALKS PLAYOFF WOES, POINTS TO ‘CODDLED’ PLAYERS
In a wide-ranging interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week, Roethlisberger expressed frustration over his final years with the Steelers and seemed to point to a shift in team dynamics as a contributing factor in his playoff woes.
“I feel like the game has changed. I feel like the people have changed in a sense. Maybe it’s because I got spoiled when I came in. The team was so important. It was all about the team. Now, it’s about me and this, that and the other,” he explained.
“I might be standing on a soapbox a little bit, but that’s my biggest takeaway from when I started to the end. It turned from a team-first to a me-type attitude. It was hard.”
Roethlisberger also said players today appeared to be “coddled at a young age.”
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But Heyward said he took “offense,” and seemingly put the blame on vets – including himself – for the Steelers’ lack of success.
“I think we have a lot of young players that come from different backgrounds. I think we have guys that have experienced different things than what I or somebody else may have experienced and that doesn’t make them selfish or more of a me-type attitude.”
“There are a lot more guys you think are team-first guys than just me-type in attitude. I took offense to that,” he continued, adding: “It’s up to the older guys to step up and hold guys accountable.”
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Roethlisberger clarified his remarks on Thursday, saying he was talking about the NFL in general, not just Pittsburgh.
“I probably should have been more detailed and specific in what I said,” he told WDVE. “It’s not the majority of guys that feel that way. I was asked what the difference in the league is now from when I first got in, even when Cam first got in, the mentality of the players, the toughness. To me, it was a very broad stroke comment.”