Ben Roethlisberger does not appear to enjoy being in the headlines for Pittsburgh Steelers training camp in his first year of retirement, though he has few people to blame other than Ben Roethlisberger.
The longtime Steelers starting quarterback walked back comments he made last week about the younger generation of players, complaining they are "coddled" from a young age and not "team-first" like the supposedly superior players of his generation.
The comments triggered a backlash, including from Roethlisberger's former teammate and current Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward.
On Thursday, Roethlisberger appeared on the Randy Baumann & the DVE Morning Show on 102.5 FM to address the fallout. He conceded that he painted with too broad a brush and said the majority of young Steelers players were actually team-first:
"I probably should've been more detailed, more specific in what I said. It's not the majority of the guys that are that way. I think, in part, I was saying too when asked what the difference of the league now from when I first got in and even when Cam got in, the difference in the league and the mentality of players, toughness, whatever you want to say. To me, it was a very broad-stroked comment.
"The majority of 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 clarified a little more to begin with. That's my bad."
Roethlisberger added that Heyward was entitled to be angry at him, but claimed the two had similar conversations about younger players over their years together. Heyward said on his podcast Roethlisberger's comments "rubbed him the wrong way" and defended his teammates.
The Roethlisberger comments in question originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Here is what he is quoted as saying:
“Maybe it’s because I got spoiled when I came in," Roethlisberger said. "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. 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.”