Hines on Ben criticizing Steelers teammates: ‘You should know better.’
Making the media rounds at the Super Bowl in Atlanta, Hall of Fame wide receiver Hines Ward has not shied away in his criticism of former teammate Antonio Brown.
Ward also used his time on radio row Thursday to target quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It was Roethlisberger’s reported altercation with Brown in the final week of the regular season that set the wheels in motion for the wide receiver to skip practice and meetings before he was made inactive against the Cincinnati Bengals.
In an interview Thursday with SiriusXM NFL Radio, Ward said Roethlisberger needs to be a better team leader by not criticizing his teammates in the media.
“When you wear that ‘C’ on your jersey, that stands for a lot,” Ward said. “It’s not just what you do on the football field. You have to hold every man accountable. Ben, you’ve been there the longest. You should know better.”
Roethlisberger, who turns 37 in March, is the elder statesman on the Steelers, arriving as a first-round draft pick in 2004. He just completed his 15th season with the team and has been a team captain for the past eight seasons — 10 overall.
Ward said Roethlisberger shouldn’t ‘blast’ teammates on his weekly 93.7-FM radio segment that is aired during the regular season. Roethlisberger notably was critical of Brown’s route-running during his weekly appearance after the Steelers’ last-minute loss at Denver in November.
“If we say we are a band of brothers, come talk to me like a brother,” Ward said. “You don’t have to put me on blast in front of the media. That’s not the way you go about handling and communicating brotherhood.”
Ward pointed out that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady doesn’t criticize teammates on his radio show that airs on a Boston station.
“You never hear him throwing guys under the bus,” Ward said to hosts Bruce Murray, Brady Quinn and former Steelers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. “That’s what leaders are. At the quarterback position, you are automatically looked at as leaders because of the position. It’s what you do on a day-to-day basis. Are you the first guy coming in? Are you the last guy leaving the building?
“It seems like he picks and chooses his moments. As a wide receiver, I’ve been there. I’ve always respected Ben Roethlisberger, but we always didn’t see eye to eye.”
On his SiriusXM appearance, Ward offered more pointed words for Brown, who skipped team meetings and didn’t immediately return phone calls from coach Mike Tomlin or team president Art Rooney II.
“Grown up, grow up,” Ward said. “You’re a professional. You’re a grown man. You can’t miss practice and leave your teammates out to dry. It’s the culture. Mike Tomlin has to own it as well.”
Ward couldn’t believe Brown rejected overtures from Rooney II.
“I have Mr. Rooney on speed dial,” he said. “If he calls me, I need to pick that phone up. That’s the one phone call that you need to pick up.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .