Report: Steelers players ‘very upset’ over drama, Ben Roethlisberger
The fallout from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ drama-filled 2018 season continues, as one team insider is suggesting that Ben Roethlisberger’s off-the-field conduct was chief among the contributing factors to the disappointing season.
NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala joined Peter King on his podcast this week to discuss what went wrong with the Steelers, a team that entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations only to see things devolve into dysfunction.
“Mike Tomlin’s locker room is very, very upset about what this season devolved into,” Kinkhabwala told King, as transcribed by Steelers Depot. “That the distraction was allowed to fester in such a way that certain athletes, their behavior was repeatedly covered up, and they were therefore given license to continue behaving that way.”
Kinkhabwala went on to point out how Roethlisberger’s weekly radio show, during which he occasionally called out teammates, added to the locker room drama.
“I can tell you from multiple, multiple people in that locker room told me how disruptive and disheartening it was to have Ben Roethlisberger go on the radio weekly and call out some teammate or another,” Kinkhabwala added.
Among the occasions when Roethlisberger publicly criticized teammates, he took aim at wide receivers James Washington and Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger defended his actions by saying he had “earned the right” to do so.
Roethlisberger’s on-air criticisms aside, there obviously were other issues that plagued the Steelers. The season had not even opened when the Le’Veon Bell drama started, a distraction the team had to navigate almost the entire campaign.
Brown also made distracting waves, beginning with a threatening tweet directed at a reporter at the start of the season and closing with getting benched for the Steelers’ season finale under inauspicious circumstances.
In retrospect, the case can be made that the Steelers’ season was doomed from the get-go. Dealing with so much drama on an ongoing basis obviously is not conducive to fostering a environment where a team can succeed.
It goes without saying that Tomlin has a big mess on his hands, but at least he has an entire season to get things back on track.