Ben Roethlisberger spoke candidly to young Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett on a recent podcast. Not everybody appreciated his brutal honesty.
Ben Roethlisberger’s displeasure with the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ decision to draft QB Kenny Pickett in the 2022 NFL Draft was a poorly kept secret at the time. The veteran still viewed himself as the centerpiece of the Steelers’ offense and he plainly took offense to the organization prioritizing his replacement.
In a recent appearance on the Footbahlin Podcast, Roethlisberger had the opportunity to discuss his feelings with Pickett. The 41-year-old admitted to initially wanting Pickett to not “ball out.”
"“I’ll be completely honest, I’ll be super transparent here, and I’m gonna get blasted. I probably shouldn’t say this, but who cares at this point. I wouldn’t say that I wanted Kenny to necessarily fail, but when someone comes to replace you, I still feel like I had it, I hope he doesn’t come ball out. Because then it’s like, Ben who?” (h/t ESPN)"
Big Ben then went on to apologize to Pickett directly and state that he is now a fan of the young quarterback, citing Pickett’s work ethic and talent.
Kenny Pickett forgives former Steelers teammate Ben Roethlisberger
Kenny Pickett accepted Roethlisberger’s apology with grace. From Brooke Pryor of ESPN, here’s how the young QB responded to Big Ben’s comments: “He’s honest. He’s out front about it, and he’s a fan now and he’s pulling for us and it was really cool to hear him say that… I think we’re just going to continue to build on that relationship.”
For Pickett at least, it feels like Big Ben’s issues are water under the bridge. Others around the league, however, have been less eager to forgive Roethlisberger. NFL Network’s Michael Robinson did not mince words on the matter.
"“Big Ben, man, that’s whack, bro. I know it’s human, I get it, but that’s one of those things, M.J., where you’re like, I’m thinking like that, but those words don’t actually find their way to come out of my mouth and say it at the end of the day. Because you don’t do that to a young quarterback. Ben wouldn’t have wanted anybody to do that to him when he was there.” via NFL.com (h/t Steelers Depot)"
Robinson understands the toxicity such attitudes can lead to in a locker room. Absolutely, Roethlisberger should not have acted the way he did. That said, the first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one. Big Ben owned up to his negative feelings, grew from them, and is now vocally supportive of Pickett.
As Robinson notes, Ben’s feelings are human. It’s natural to feel pride or jealously. Roethlisberger is certainly not the first veteran QB to be displeased with his team’s decision to prioritize a younger option. Aaron Rodgers went through the same phase with Jordan Love in Green Bay. Heck, it’s well-known that Tom Brady was not a huge fan of Jimmy Garopollo in New England.
This feels like a non-issue at this point. If anything, we should admire Ben’s honesty and appreciate his ability to course correct.