Ben Roethlisberger: Should Have Been More Specific with 'Me-First' NFL Player Remarks

Adam WellsJuly 28, 2022

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 16: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts as he walks off the field after being defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs 42-21 in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 16, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger attempted to clarify his comments about NFL players changing from team-first guys to primarily focusing on themselves over the course of his playing career.

Appearing on Pittsburgh's 102.5 DVE radio station on Thursday (h/t ESPN's Brooke Pryor), Roethlisberger said he doesn't feel "the majority of guys are that way" and he "should've been more detailed, more specific" with his original comments.

In an interview with Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Big Ben said he felt players were prioritizing their own interests instead of what's best for the team:

"It turned from a team-first to a me-type attitude. It was hard. It’s hard for these young guys, too. Social media. They’re treated so well in college. Now, this new NIL stuff, which is unbelievable. They’re treated so special. They’re coddled at a young age because college coaches need them to win, too. I know coach [Terry] Hoeppner never coddled me [at Miami of Ohio]. Neither did [Bill] Cowher."

Roethlisberger's comment to Cook prompted a response from former teammate and current Steeler Cameron Heyward.

Speaking on the Not Just Football with Cam Heyward (h/t Jason Owens of Yahoo Sports), the five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle said he was "a little bit upset about" what Roethlisberger said:

"It looks as though we're looked at as selfish players, and I think that's not the point. 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. 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.

Roethlisberger and Heyward were teammates with the Steelers for 11 seasons from 2011 to 2021.

During his radio interview, Roethlisberger noted he and Heyward have had conversations "many times in the last couple years" about this subject.

The future Hall of Fame quarterback noted he "wasn't trying to bash anyone specifically" but making a "broad-stroke comment" that he should have been more clear about.

Roethlisberger went on to say he believes a "majority" of players on the Steelers "are team-first guys."

After an 18-year career in Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger retired from the NFL in January. He was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2004 draft by the Steelers, who had tremendous success over the course of Roethlisberger's career. The six-time Pro Bowler led them to 12 playoff appearances, three Super Bowls and two NFL championships.