Former NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who played his entire storied career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, talked about the state of professional football today in a wide-ranging interview with ‘hometown’ newspaper the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Super Bowl-winning signal caller, who is in the running to become a first-ballot Hall of Famer, said he believes that the mentality of players in the league today has shifted “from a team-first to a me-type attitude.”
He also expressed his frustration during the final years of his career with the Steelers and appeared to suggest there was a shift in team dynamics that may have contributed to a dearth of playoff appearances.
“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,” he explained.
“I might be standing on a soapbox a little bit, but that’s my biggest takeaway from when I started to the end. It turned from a team-first to a me-type attitude. It was hard,” he added.
Fox News notes further:
Roethlisberger finished his career with two Super Bowl titles, six Pro Bowl selections and as the 2004 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. He retired with 64,088 passing yards and 418 touchdown passes but won just three playoff games after 2010.
Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a franchise-best 11-0 start in 2020 before finishing 12-4 and eventually losing to the Cleveland Browns in the playoffs. He returned for one more season.
“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,” Roethlisberger continued. “I know coach [Terry] Hoeppner never coddled me [at Miami of Ohio]. Neither did [Bill] Cowher.”
NIL rules recently adopted by the NCAA allow players to earn money from their “Name, Image, and Likeness.” Alabama college football head coach Nick Saban said his players collectively made over $3 million last year alone.
“Name, Image, and Likeness is a great thing for players,” Saban told reporters last week. “And I’m all for players having the opportunity to create whatever value theory can create for themselves. Our players did extremely well last year, I think they made over $3 million in Name, Image, and Likeness.
“But I do think that the concerns… there has to be some guidelines that sort of protects competitive balance and how we do this. I think when it’s used in recruiting and players start making choices and decisions based on promises made in Name, Image, and Likeness, I’m not sure that is a good thing,” Saban said Tuesday. “So I do think there need to be some guidelines in that.”
Roethlisberger told the paper: “I thought I went out on my terms. I never wanted to stay too long. I know some people might think I did. ‘You stayed last year.’ But I thought I played pretty well last year, to be honest.
“My arm feels like I still could go out and play. I’m pretty confident I could still play. But it’s every day. It’s mental. Not having to prepare for camp and the season has been the biggest blessing for me. I’m fine with where I’m at with everything,” he added.