He first detailed how he believes the game has changed since he first joined the league in 2004. He said, “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.”
“I might be standing on a soapbox a little bit, but that’s my biggest takeaway from when I started to the end,” Roethlisberger told the Gazette’s Ron Cook. “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,” he elaborated. “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 remarks seem to reflect the sentiment of many people who are middle-aged and older and have lived through the changes to society—including sports—in different generations.
Steelers captain Cam Heyward took offense to Roethlisberger’s remarks, sounding off on his podcast, “Not Just Football with Cam Heyward.”
“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 might experience. And that doesn’t make them selfish or it doesn’t make them more of a me-type attitude.”
“There are a lot more guys, you think, that are team-first guys than just me-type in attitude. I took offense to that,” he later said.
Heyward played with Roethlisberger for 10 seasons on the Steelers, beginning back in 2011. He said he wasn’t necessarily calling Roethlisberger out, but he wanted to be clear that he would protect his guys.
“You just can’t say it’s a ‘me-type of attitude’ now,” Heyward added. “Everyone’s out to be a Super Bowl winner, make money, one day be an MVP. 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 out on that one.”
With the ball back in Roethlisberger’s court, he decided to punt. “I probably should’ve been more detailed, more specific,” Roethlisberger told local radio station 102.5 DVE. “It’s not the majority. It’s not the majority of the guys are that way.”
He continued, “I think, in part, I was saying too when asked what the difference of the league now a days from when I first got in and even when Cam got in, the difference in the league and the mentality of players, and toughness, whatever you want to say. To me, it was a very broad-stroked kind of comment.”
“Cam and I honestly have sat down many times in the last couple years and had the same conversation. So it’s not like it’s new to Cam. I get Cam supporting his teammates,” Roethlisberger proclaimed. “I wasn’t trying to bash anybody specifically, I was just making a broad stroke judgment.”
“Cam’s entitled to disagree with me or whatever he says and be upset, this, that, and the other,” Roethlisberger continued. “But like I said, he and I have had those comments. So I know he knows what I’m talking about.”
“And I will say this. I agree with him, and I should’ve been more clear,” Roethlisberger noted. “The majority of the guys on that team are team-first guys. I hated that it got painted like it’s the majority of me-first, it’s not that way. There are so many great team guys on that team that care about the Steelers, this organization and winning. Maybe I should have clarifiedt hat a little more to begin with. That’s my bad.”