Pittsburgh Steelers captain Cameron Heyward took offense at Ben Roethlisberger’s recent allegation that too many current NFL players have “a sense of self” and said his former teammate’s comments “rub me in the wrong direction.”
In a wide-ranging interview published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Friday, Roethlisberger said “the game has changed” and “the people have changed” as he addressed differences he felt between his early and later years noticed the Steelers.
“The team was so important,” Roethlisberger said, referring to his early seasons with Pittsburgh. “It was all about the team. Now it’s about me and this, that and the other.
“I might be a bit on a soapbox, but this is my biggest takeaway from start to finish. It has shifted from a team first to a me attitude. It was hard. It’s tough for these young people, too. Social media. They treat you so well in college. Now this new NIL stuff which is amazing. You are treated so special. They get pampered at a young age because college coaches need them to win too. I know trainers [Terry] Höppner never coddled me. Both not [Bill] cowher.”
Heyward was Roethlisberger’s teammate from 2011 until last season, when the future Hall of Famer quarterback retired. In the latest installment of his podcast, Heyward said he disagreed with Roethlisberger’s observation, saying it made him “a little bit upset.”
“It seems like we’re being viewed as selfish players and I don’t think that’s the point,” the veteran defender said on the Not Just Football with Cam Heyward podcast. “We have a lot of young players from different backgrounds who have experienced different things than others or me. That doesn’t make them selfish or more of a ego attitude. … There are many more team-first types than me-type attitudes. I insulted that.
Heyward, 33, cited several current and former Steelers — including Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyson Alualu and Brett Keisel — who have had a positive impact on the dressing room and organization, calling them “team first guys.” despite criticism of her personality.
Heyward, a team captain since 2015, also said “it’s up to leadership, myself included” to help young players adjust to the NFL and the culture of the Steelers, who won two Super Bowls with Roethlisberger.
“I’m responsible for these guys,” Heyward said. “Obviously we haven’t had a Super Bowl in a long time, and maybe Ben’s like, ‘Man, if these guys had grown up.’ But it’s up to the older guys to stand up and hold the boys accountable … It’s up to a vet to take you under their wing and pull you over and say, “Hey, that’s what being Pittsburgh Steeler is.” And that’s what i’m trying to do.
“Maybe Ben didn’t see it that way, but man I will protect my boys. You just can’t say it’s an ‘I attitude’ now. Everyone is out to become a Super Bowl winner, make money, be an MVP one day. But when it all comes together, we care about one thing, this logo right here. … I’ve always tried to extend that to my younger teammates. I think Ben was a little off that.”
Roethlisberger, 40, played his entire 18-year career as a starting quarterback for the Steelers before retiring last January. A six-time Pro Bowler, he finished his career with the fifth-most passing yards in NFL history (64,088) and led the Steelers to the Super Bowl championships after the 2005 and 2008 seasons.
Heyward emphasized that he did not “shadow” Roethlisberger, but “explained my side”.
“Don’t say Cam’s calling for Ben—it’s not,” Heyward said. “But I will say I will protect my team. I will make sure everyone knows that we only care about football on the field and less about off the field. We can all understand that Ben was a damn good QB. You don’t do this game and become a Hall of Fame quarterback and do it at a low level.
“Ben has taken some hits that not many other teams have been able to. He saved us, he won games we weren’t supposed to win and he kept improving. But it was the team around him that helped him and I don’t want anyone to ever forget that the whole team won – not just Ben.”
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34301549/cameron-heyward-says-ben-roethlisberger-comments-current-nfl-players-rub-wrong-way Cameron Heyward says Ben Roethlisberger’s comments about current NFL players ‘rub me the wrong way’