Steelers Roethlisberger Finally Taking Up Mantle Of ‘Team Leader’


Ben throwing the ball around during a voluntary workout on Monday.

Photo Courtesy of the Steelers Facebook page

The Steelers held a voluntary workout for players on Monday, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was present.  Roethlisberger has been at these voluntary workouts in the past, but this time around (and quite possibly this season) marks a turning point in the franchise quarterback’s career – becoming a true leader.

During the practice, Roethlisberger was seen huddling up the players and talked to them.  Not just the offense, but all the players in attendance.  No one could hear what he was saying beyond that large circle on the field, but Roethlisberger summarized to Teresa Varley of what he said.

"I wanted to tell them this is the start of the 2013 season.  It’s important for us to know if we want to be the best we can be it starts now. I wanted to let them know that I am here to help and support them, and I plan on leading any way I can."

It falls low on the charts of ‘Most Inspirational Speeches’ right alongside that speech from The President in Independence Day…

What this speech does for me as a fan is yell out a whooping, ‘FINALLY!’  This clearly shows that Ben has decided to take up the mantle as team leader for this season and seasons beyond.  It’s a mantle that was left vacant after Jerome Bettis retired, filled somewhat by Hines Ward, and completely empty last season.  The Steelers desperately need someone in that locker room to take control of this team’s attitude.  Lord knows that the coaching staff is falling short of that aspiration.

I would have loved to hear verbatim what Roethlisberger said.  If it was to the tone of how he summarized things to Varley, I get a little squeamish because it sounds like more of a middle management suggestion box comment.  Let me know how I can help you guys, and I’ll do what I can. Don’t forget casual jeans day is this Friday!  Big Ben should just take the big bull by the horns and steer this team the way he sees fit.

He spoke further with Varley and told her that as one of the older guys and veterans on the team (due to the vacuum of free agency) he needs to step up for the younger and older guys and be the leader and quarterback the team needs him to be.  With age certainly comes wisdom, but I think Roethlisberger didn’t need to wait until this moment in time to take the mantle of leadership.  As the quarterback, it’s natural for that position to lead the offense on the field and in the locker room.  Last season, Troy Polamalu appeared he wanted to take on more of a leadership role when he showed up at the voluntary sessions last season after the defense lost their biggest leader, James Farrior.  But with his injuries all last season, he could not let his actions on the field act as inspiration.  The team lacked a true leader in that locker room.  You know, someone to tell Mike Wallace to quit acting like such a senseless and selfish jag.

Even though I think Ben’s a little late in finding his calling as team leader (he should have stepped up the moment when Hines Ward rode off into the sunset), now is better than never.  I hope that he really can lead this team – flush out the bad blood, instil confidence in the veterans, inspire the young’ins, and take this team on his shoulders all the way to Jersey in February 2014.  With the continued shakeups within the roster due to salary cap issues and free agency, the team will need all the leadership it can get to keep their head above water.  This season will prove what kind of leader Big Ben is and let Steeler fans know what kind of chance this team has winning that 7th Lombardi while he’s the starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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