Nov 4, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) hands off to running back Isaac Redman (33) during the second half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the New York Giants 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Steelers: Troubled Locker Room?

Ben Roethlisberger sent a message to his teammates and his delivery method concerns me. According to Alan Robinson’s Wednesday evening article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Roethlisberger challenged his teammates.

We need to come out and play ball. I don‘t want to use the word desperation — I don‘t feel desperate — I just feel like we need to put it together and play ball the way we know how to play ball.”

I can’t say I remember many Steelers players talking through the media to each other. I’m a fan of these things staying behind the locker-room doors. However, on the other side of things, one has to wonder what kind of toll this uneven season has taken on the players. Is this because of some player’s legal troubles? Is the locker room affected by the poor attitude of some players? Has the departure of Bruce Arians and Todd Haley’s new systems caused problems? Well, maybe. But, seriously, I don’t care! “Suck-it-up-buttercup!” Football players are professionals who get paid a lot of money and they should deliver. Yinzer’s are hard-working, down-to-earth people who expect effort to be commensurate with the pay earned. Injuries are understandable but repeated mistakes are not. I am thinking that Robinson’s term of “challenge” for Roethlisberger’s statement may be inaccurate. I think Roethlisberger is talking to the fans. He’s publically showing that he understands—and shares—the fans’ frustration.

The previous leadership voices of Farrior and Ward are gone, as Robinson also noted. Earlier this season, I mused that Farrior’s departure would be felt in an intangible way and there would be a gap until other veterans became more comfortable in leading. Just because you play football, it doesn’t mean you are someone who can motivate and inspire.

I am of the opinion that coaches’ voices grow stale. I also think that coaches begin to make assumptions after they have a system in place. Tomlin may be assuming that players are practicing and playing to a certain standard, but in some games there is a lack of discipline. That said, you have to give the opposing team some credit. But the Steelers have lost games this year where you went away shaking your head instead of saying that it was a close game. The fans find it easy to pick out things to criticize because it’s not the way they are used to seeing the Steelers play. Roethlisberger’s statements, in my opinion, show he understands that. I can remember many games where you could point to only one or two times where Steelers players made mistakes. Most times fans felt every Steeler on the field this year gave 110% – win or lose. This year, well, there have been times to question it. For example, the repeated fumbles and dropsies have everyone scratching their heads – I am nearly ready to lobby the NFL to bring back the outlawed “Stick-em.” I’m not calling for Tomlin or LeBeau’s resignation, but there is something going on I just can’t put my finger on.

So, I’m to the point that I don’t care how Roethlisberger delivered the message. I want the players to bond together and fight for these last three wins. Playoffs (cue Jim Mora…) or not, I want to see the players finish the season in “the Steeler way.” Personally, I don’t care if there are problems in the locker room. You’re all adults, figure it out. Play tough and give the Steelers their money’s worth – you’re getting paid—earn it.

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Tags: Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Brianooch

    This is the first time I think that Tomlin is gone.. This is a horrible sign.. I know the Steelers dont fire coaches but he has allowed players to sit a month with minor injuries and walk back into the starting lineup.. Why does Woodley supplant Worilds ? Woodley just took an extra 3 game vacation just like last year.. these guys know that some are working harder than others and Tomlin cant see it.. Still blabbering his hard/pseudo-intellectual bs about responsibility. Tomlin is a master of the presser.. but that is all at this moment..

  • BossSteelerChick

    This article is pure speculation, a guess at best. There are many factors at play here, not the least of which is injuries. Max Starks is the only Steelers who hasn’t missed a snap. Seems to me that’s a more likely determination of what’s going on than locker room issues or blaming the coaches.

    • Lori P.

      Wendy, you’re right – the article is pure speculation. I’m not on the field nor in the locker room but the feel isn’t right to me. I’ve been faithful to the team through a lot of lean years and it is starting to feel to me like the aura that comes with lean times. All we can do is keep cheering them on.

  • Joe Falco

    I think that ultimately, it is Tomlin’s ship to correct! Have you ever heard “The buck stops here?”

  • Cletus

    Maybe you’re right. I haven’t once this season heard Ben’s “band of brothers” phrase that he often used in past years. We aren’t in the locker room so we don’t know what’s up for certain, but the chemistry is not evident. Maybe it is the intangibles lost with Farrior, Ward and Smith gone. Maybe it is resentment towards teammates’ dogging it or selfishness. I know I didn’t take Cleveland or San Diego for granted. I never bought into the Haley theory, but I’m not convinced in The-Standard-Is-The-Standard rhetoric. I’ll still hope, this year and next, but I’m saddened by the loss of my bragging rights.

  • Rick

    Mr.Rooney needs to stop payment on checks, just like most of these over paid under performing players have stopped executing, rather its due too they don’t have the talent or they just don’t have any PRIDE in them selves or Mr.Rooneys product.