The Pittsburgh Steelers have been blessed with a franchise quarterback since 2004. Yet, it feels like fans still don’t quite understand what they have in Ben Roethlisberger.
We live in a world driven by social media. Anyone with two thumbs and a phone can have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever other outlets you prefer. You don’t have to be of a certain class, creed, or status to have an account on any platform. It’s free-thinking and freedom of expression at its highest level.
When it comes to Ben Roethlisberger, the viewpoints are all over the spectrum. You have the fanboys that think he can do no wrong. Then there’s the anti-Big Ben crowd that wants nothing more than to ship him out of Pittsburgh or just wish he would finally decide to retire. And of course, there are countless opinions scattered everywhere in between.
Thanks to keyboard courage (or whatever you want to call it), the opinions on Big Ben are infinite. And they never seem to stop. In this entire Antonio Brown situation with the Steelers, Ben is getting a good portion of the blame for this situation getting to where it’s gotten to. I’ll be quite honest: that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.
When it comes to Antonio Brown, that dude is a grown man. Speaking as a millennial myself, one of the biggest knocks on millennials is our inability to accept responsibility for our actions, good or bad. I did not grow up that way, and I know Antonio didn’t either. My childhood, which was not at all glamorous or privileged, was nothing compared to Brown’s. I had it so much better than he did, so I know that Brown understands what humility is. Unfortunately, he has failed to show any sign of it recently. Why Brown can’t man up and take responsibility for his own actions is beyond me. Ben didn’t force Antonio to Facebook live. Ben didn’t force Antonio to quit on the team. Ben didn’t force Antonio to dodge texts and calls from his coach and owner.
This narrative of Brown being voided of blame because of Ben’s actions is ludicrous. There are guys like Shannon Sharpe who call Ben a horrible leader and say he “went out of his way” to give JuJu Smith-Schuster more catches and yards. No disrespect, but that’s asinine and couldn’t be further from the truth. Brown had more targets than JuJu on the season. If he had actually watched any Steelers games that weren’t nationally televised games, he’d know that.
If anything, the argument could be made that Ben struggled at times because he forced the ball to Antonio Brown. The tie against Cleveland was the epitome of forcing the ball to Brown. Not to mention, Ben was also criticized this season for his red zone interceptions. All four of his red zone picks were intended for Antonio Brown (insert Kermit tea meme).
The camp that still wants Brown on the Steelers doesn’t want to part with such a talented player. He is talented. Brown is the best receiver of his generation, but are we seriously going to forget about Ben’s talent and ability. Using Ben as the scapegoat for this Antonio Brown situation is unfair to a guy that will deservedly be a first-ballot Hall-of-famer.
Remember when the Steelers had a great defense every year, but no quarterback? Bill Cowher tried to do everything he could with the quarterbacks he had been able to acquire. They had gotten close, but could never win. The minute the Steelers get Ben, they go 15-1 and go to the AFC Championship. The following year, they win the Super Bowl. Having a franchise quarterback put the Steelers over the top and made them a Super Bowl contender.
The Steelers have won three playoff games since 2011, their last Super Bowl appearance. Since then, the defense had to be rebuilt, and it still hasn’t been properly rebuilt. The Steelers defenses of this decade pale in comparison to the defenses of the previous decade, meanwhile Ben has become one of the elite passers in the game.
Ben gets a lot of blame. It’s easy to scapegoat the quarterback. It’s also lazy. People forget, and don’t want to admit, that the defense just isn’t good enough to win a Super Bowl.
The one thing Ben should get blame for is his public comments on players. There have been times where he’s criticized players distastefully, but there have been times where he’s made comments that get blown out of proportion like his James Washington comments. Ben should know better that his words will be perceived in the most negative light possible. Everyone nowadays has an opinion, and anything anyone can say behind a keyboard will be said if you give them firepower. Even if he’s right when he says something, he needs to think twice about saying it because the media will forget the times he has owned up to poor performances like he did after the Ravens game at home this season.
Unfortunately, Ben will never get the recognition he deserves. Maybe it will take him retiring to get fans to see just how good and irreplaceable he is. With the defense in the state it is now, if Ben were to retire, the Steelers would be dead last in the AFC North in 2019.
You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Pittsburgh, don’t wish away Ben Roethlisberger. You may not want to see a talent like Antonio Brown go away, but I promise you, you don’t want to see Ben go away.