Hines Ward Calls Ben A Sissy

Since the Bus was shown the door, I’ve done my best to avoid the Sunday Night Football pregame show. Bob Costas is an annoying little Hobbit while Keith Olbermann has a smug arrogance that makes me want to punch him in the face. And don’t even get me started on Rodney Harrison. I’m perfectly happy to tune in about five minutes before game time, pause to enjoy Faith Hill in hooker boots, then go make a sandwich until kickoff.

Of course, this strategy backfired this week when SNF actually presented something newsworthy during their show. The Hobbit sat down with Hines Ward and asked him about Ben Roethlisberger sitting out with a concussion. Normally, you’d expect to hear the typical jock speak about rallying around your fallen leader or other assorted sports cliches. However this time, things didn’t go according to script.

Hines Ward did everything short of stating his quarterback had a small penis in a shocking display of team disharmony. In fact, by stating the locker room was divided “50-50″ on whether Ben should play, he dragged the entire team into controversy. In the past 24 hours, Hines has backed off his statements slightly, trying to frame his comments as being caught off-guard by the fact Ben practiced normally all week only to blindside everybody with post-concussion symptoms on Saturday morning. But Hines Ward is an intelligent man and I have no doubt he knew EXACTLY what he was saying when he called out his quarterback in front of a national audience.

Predictably, I’m noticing backlash against Hines. The local media, which is nothing more than a public relations tool for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has rushed to Ben’s defense. It also seems the majority of the fanbase, typically enamored with the “star quarterback,” are displeased with Hines.  I’ve heard words like “selfish” or “prima donna” being used in reference to Ward which frankly angers me.  This is the man who played in the Super Bowl with a partially torn MCL and who has never whined about not getting thrown the ball nor done anything except repeat his desire to win.  If that makes him a prima donna, maybe the Steelers need more of them so they wouldn’t be in the situation their in.

About a month ago, ESPN did an in-depth profile of Big Ben. In that piece, they reveal the fact he wasn’t popular with his teammates for a long time.  This may be new information to the national media but anybody who obsessively follows the Steelers knew this a long time ago.  Rookie QB Mark Sanchez is a captain on the Jets while Ben wasn’t named an offensive captain until his fourth season here.   In 2007, he made the Pro Bowl yet his teammates voted James Harrison (who only had 8 sacks that year) the Team MVP.  The only problem with the piece is the disconnect between Ben and the rest of the team evidently still exists to a degree.

Look, I like Big Ben.  I think he’s a great quarterback and I’m thrilled that we have him.  But at the same time, I understand where his teammates could be annoyed by him.  His constant injuries are ridiculous.  You don’t think Hines Ward or any number of defensive players suit up each week while nursing injuries that would keep us normal people in bed for a week?  Yet, Ben always seems to find a way to get the news out that his pinky is jammed or his ankle is sprained or his knee is twisted or whatever the Ouchie Of The Week seems to be.  He’s a Drama Queen and it’s an annoying character flaw for anybody, especially a pro athlete.   And it gives him, or more accurately his starry-eyed supporters in the media, a convenient excuse for when he makes mistakes.

Don’t misunderstand.  I’m not saying we should get rid of him.  I’m not saying he’s a bum.  I’m not saying we could’ve won those two Super Bowls without him.  But what I am saying, and what I think goes to the root of this team disharmony, is that Ben gets a disproportionate share of the credit.  He’s a good quarterback and he is extremely good in clutch situations but anybody who seriously tries to argue he’s as good as (or better than) Peyton Manning or Tom Brady is insane.  Watch either of those guys, watch the throws they make, and you have to be a blind homer (or Bruce Arians) to think they have comparable passing skills.  Ben came in and had a great first couple seasons because he had a great running game with the Bus and FWP to take pressure off him.  Last year, he pulled out a lot of great comebacks but we were only in position to come back because of our defense.  Not to mention he has one future Hall of Fame receiver and two other Pro Bowl caliber targets (Holmes and Miller) to throw at.

How do you think he’d fare with Andre Hastings and Charles Johnson?

I understand concussions are a serious matter.  I realize that Ben needs to be concerned for his long term health and make sure he’s not the NFL’s version of Muhammad Ali in twenty years.  At the same time, I feel Hines Ward is getting a bad rap in this whole deal.  Should he have aired dirty team laundry in public?  No.  But at the same time, this man has sacrificed more than we’ll probably ever know (since he doesn’t have P.R. agents reporters announcing his every injury) because he wants to WIN.  So before everybody jumps on the “Hines is a bad guy” bandwagon, I hope they take the time to look at things from his point of view.

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  • arlis

    Sorry to disagree. Ben had motorcycle accident causing a documented traumatic brain injury. He is much more susceptible to long-term impairment al a Ali.

    Hines might want to question the Steeler medical staff Joe Maroon and Mark Lovell why he was so easily able to not only fake out their powers of observation but also ImPact the test they own sell throughout the league and to high schools and colleges.

    In 10 or 20 years when with a high order of certainty he and/or Ben as well many past team mates will be having Webster-esque or Justin Long-esque experiences, Hines might have a diffence of opinion and so might you.

  • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

    I have no problem with disagreement as long as its done politely. And you make a number of good points.

    However, I think I didn’t make my point clearly. I wasn’t saying Ben should have played. If he indeed had concussion symptoms, he definitely should have sat.

    But I wonder if how serious these symptoms were. He practiced normally. He dressed for the game. His teammates obviously had ZERO clue he had anything wrong with him. It’s suspicious to me.

    There’s a difference between being hurt and being injured. If you tear your knee up, you’re injured. If you sprain your ankle, you’re hurt. If Ben couldn’t see straight or couldn’t remember his zip code, I can see being worried. A headache, to me, seems like a bit of a cheapie.

  • mike

    Do you get off on insulting big ben? Do you have a personal vendetta against him? I ask this because you always seem to include some sort of criticism of Ben whenever you mention him in your articles, and for no reason but to critisize him. I could see if your analysis was accurate but you are so off course its laughable, and you go out of your way to state your point. Im not tallking about the drama quen stuff or the injuries, im talking about your outrageously wrong clames about bens QB performance. Super Bowl rings are what matters and the playoffs is where Ben shines. Compare bens numbers to Peytons numbers in the playoffs and your Ben hating head will explode. Peytons offense averages about 12 points per game in the playoffs, so you cant use the excuse of Ben having a better defense than Peyton. Peyton just doesnt get the job done and chokes in the playoffs. Ill take a clutch playoff performer over a regular season pro bowler anyday. Get your mind right on this topic, your starting to lose a whole lot of readers. “Ben is good BUT”, “Ben won super bowls BUT”….Get over it buddy, Ben is a superstar and gets it done when it matters most, regardless of ‘defense’ and all yoru other ramblings that would have made sense his rookie year but are totally irrelivant the past three years. The defense let him down in the super bowl so ben drove 90 freakin yards and won it without his defense.

  • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

    If people stop reading this blog because I’m not a blind Ben Worshipper who thinks he walks on water and can do no wrong, then let them leave. I’m more interested in being an honest, rationale, realistic Steeler fan than a “YEAH! STEELERZ R TEH GREATEST TEAM EVAR!!” yinzer.

    I have said MANY MANY times, and even say in this article, that Ben is CLUTCH. As in, he comes up big in big games. I have never denied this. So yes, he is a better playoff QB than Peyton Manning.

    But Peyton is a better QB overall. You know, during those 16 games you have to play just to GET INTO THE PLAYOFFS. Saying you’d rather have a good playoff QB over a good regular season QB is stupid. What good is a guy who plays big in 1 or 2 games every few years over a guy who plays great 16 games a year EVERY YEAR?

    Anybody who evaluates a QB solely on Super Bowl rings is an idiot. Know who has a Super Bowl ring? TRENT DILFER!! Is he a great QB because he’s “clutch?” Get your head out of your butt, take off the Black and Gold colored glasses, and watch some football games played by teams other than the Steelers and then maybe you’ll have an informed opinion.

  • mike

    Man, your reasoning is old and tired. Its not 2004 anymore. You and Peter King are the only two people left in the world who make the ‘manages the game’ or ‘defense’ excuse anymore.

  • dave

    I agree with you Chris, if Ben wasn’t going to be able to play he should have let them know at the beginning of the week, just imagine if Dixon had had more that one practice with the first team offense, it could have made a difference in a game that turned out to be as close as this one was.

    Ben is a great quarterback, but in the espn thing on him it covered the swelled head he got after that first superbowl, i’m wondering if he got an addiction to the media then, because though he’s tried to be a better member of the team, he’s still been in the media an awfull lot since then.

  • JLAW

    Chris I think I understand what you’re saying/asking, is Ben crying wolf. I’m not trying to stir the pot any more cause I can tell you struck a nerve with some people. I understand that and questioned it the same. Either way he should be good to go this week and I’m glad cause as you stated he is Clutch and the rest of our season is clutch if you ask me. This should be a tune up week for the next round with the Ratbirds. Sadly with the way things have gone this year nothing is a tune up for us. So here’s to hoping for success this week. And like I said espn reported Tomlin advised earlier this week that Ben and Hines were friends again. Be safe!

  • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

    Dave and JLaw, I appreciate you guys taking the time to read what I wrote and allow yourselves to be open to different points of view. As far as this topic goes, I honestly don’t see how you can blame Hines for being upset/frustrated.

    Ben practiced normally all week. He told the media he felt zero after affects from the concussion. Tomlin said he passed every Dr’s test “with flying colors.” Obviously the players saw nothing at practice to indicate he was having problems.

    Then all of a sudden on Friday afternoon it comes out Ben’s been having symptoms all week and can’t play in the biggest game of the year. How could you not find that a bit strange? And if you were a player, let alone a ultra-competitive one like Hines, how could you not be a tad upset with him?

    I like Ben. I think he’s a very good QB. But he’s not beyond criticism and one of his well-known flaws is his habit of coming up with goofy injuries left and right. Like Dave said, if he had headaches on Tues, he should have stopped practicing on Tues, not Friday afternoon. Sure Hines handled this situation poorly but to totally excuse Ben makes no sense.

  • mike

    Tomlin said ben lobbied to play saturday night. Ben never knew he wasnt going to be able to play untill Tomlin and the doctor shut him down which was saturday. It was Tomlins decision not to tell the players ben was having symptons, not Bens. Excusing ben does make sense because it wasnt him this time being a drama queen, it was him saying he was good to play and tomlin and the docs shutting him down. misinformation is getting thrown around here

    and no matter how upset Ward was, you should never go publicly to say something of this nature about a teammate, ward isnt terrel owens so he shouldnt act like it. If he had a problem, he should have went straight to ben and not Bob Costas. Thats why your in the minority here thinking ben should also be at fault

  • mike

    for some reason it doesnt let me include the not equall to sign in my posts.
    Ben (not equall to) game manager
    Ben = elite QB