Mark Madden: No logical connection between Roethlisberger, Steelers' circus
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. When the Steelers’ latest round of turmoil went viral, Freeman tweeted, “Three people deserve blame for the Steelers’ predicament: Ben [Roethlisberger], [Antonio Brown] and [Mike] Tomlin. But my point has been that Tomlin and AB catch all the heat while Ben skates. No player in recent NFL history has skated as much as Ben.”
So I tweeted at Freeman, “OK, I’ll bite…tell me, exactly, how you connect Ben to the Steelers’ predicament. Be specific.”
Responded Freeman, “Didn’t ask you to bite. Don’t care if you do or don’t, especially with that attitude.”
Translation: Freeman can’t do it. He can’t logically make the connection.
Nobody can, not beyond tenuous.
ESPN’s Ryan Clark, a former Steeler, said Roethlisberger isn’t a “natural-born leader” (directed by Oliver Stone) and talked about a team meeting called to discuss it. But that was years ago.
Roethlisberger isn’t always polite when talking about his teammates. Some characterize that as throwing them under the bus. Roethlisberger said, “as the quarterback and captain I have the right to do those things. I don’t feel like I abuse that situation.”
Brown reportedly was chastised by Roethlisberger at practice for running a wrong route. Isn’t that Roethlisberger’s prerogative?
Brown reportedly was told by Roethlisberger, “I don’t have to throw you the ball.” That’s true. Roethlisberger doesn’t. Wouldn’t this whole situation have benefited by Brown bring humbled more, and earlier, and by Tomlin, say, long before Week 17 of this season?
All I see is old news and action Roethlisberger should feel free to take within the context of his status as a nailed-on Hall-of-Famer, two-time Super Bowl winner, best Steelers quarterback ever and, yes, captain. (You need followers, not just leaders.)
Brown does not outrank Roethlisberger, nor is he his equal status-wise. It’s a rare exception when a receiver dictates to a quarterback.
Roethlisberger has won more with lesser receivers than he had this past season. Hines Ward was the No. 1 receiver when the Steelers won Super Bowls in 2005 and ’08. Talent-wise, Ward would be a slot receiver on the current roster. (Ward had a gigantic ego. But when the bell rang, he was all about team.)
It’s a stretch to say Brown was a mere sixth-round pick who reached prominence when he came to Pittsburgh and Roethlisberger sprinkled magic dust on him. But it’s not that much of a stretch.
It’s not at all a stretch to say Brown would be anonymous had he been drafted by, say, Buffalo or Cleveland.
We constantly hear how hard Brown works, and he does. So what? You’re supposed to. Does Brown work hard for the team or for himself? Does Roethlisberger not work hard? Brown certainly doesn’t work hard at the practices he doesn’t show up for.
So I ask again: How is Roethlisberger directly connected to the Steelers’ current turmoil?
How did Roethlisberger have anything to do with Brown missing practices, meetings and walk-throughs in the days prior to the Dec. 30 home game against Cincinnati? If Brown was angry with Roethlisberger, that doesn’t excuse Brown from his responsibilities.
How did Roethlisberger have anything to do with Brown’s prior misconduct, which is well-documented and too lengthy a resume to list here?
Freeman won’t answer. Does anybody else want to try? I’ll hang up and listen.
Pittsburgh fans are divided on the issue, if a pale horse named Twitter is any indication.
There’s certainly a race component on both sides of this street.
There’s also frequent referral to Roethlisberger twice being falsely accused of rape. That last happened in 2010. Roethlisberger was never charged, let alone tried or convicted. It’s ancient history and not at all linked to what’s happening now.
It’s often mentioned Roethlisberger led the NFL in interceptions this past season with 16. That didn’t make Brown quit on the Steelers.
Tomlin enabled Brown’s behavior. He should have tried to nip Brown’s shenanigans in the bud long ago but probably couldn’t have. Brown would have tried the same nonsense with Bill Cowher or Chuck Noll.
But there is no logical or significant connection between the Steelers’ current circus act and Roethlisberger.
To draw one is to create a straw man and in transparent fashion.
The Steelers likely will trade Brown. They also will restructure and extend Roethlisberger’s contract by March.
The Steelers have made up their minds. They picked the right guy, and logically so.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).