Steelers' Cam Heyward Defends Ben Roethlisberger: 'This Guy is a Proven Winner'

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIMay 25, 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) walks off the field after Cleveland Browns strong safety Karl Joseph (42) recovered a fumbled snap for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Cam Heyward doesn't want to hear your criticism of his quarterback.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday after the team's first on-field OTA, the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end defended Ben Roethlisberger.

"When I hear the bad-mouthing about him being a not great quarterback and everybody is ready to elevate other quarterbacks, I'm like, what have they done?" Heyward said. "This guy is a proven winner, but yet we're ready to discount him."

The 39-year-old quarterback was strong through the bulk of the 2020 season, despite coming off of elbow surgery following a season-ending injury in 2019. He threw 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while attempting 608 passes, though four of those picks came in the team's playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns. That loss punctuated a downward trend for Pittsburgh, which started the season 11-0 but lost five of its last six games.

The lengthy winning streak is what Heyward wants people to focus on instead.

"I think we're just blowing it out of proportion," Heyward said. "The dude went 11-0 to start the season. How many other quarterbacks did that? I think we can sit up here and talk about how we lost the game last year. We lost to the Cleveland Browns. OK, so be it. We fell off at the end, but we still made the playoffs." 

Roethlisberger was in attendance at OTAs, as were the team's three other signal-callers: Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins Jr. and Joshua Dobbs. 

The veteran apparently remains committed to Pittsburgh. Amid speculation that he would retire this offseason, he restructured his deal to bring his cap hit down by $15 million and return to the franchise that drafted him No. 11 overall in 2004.