Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger Unveils Shocking Take: 'Maybe The Tradition Of The Pittsburgh Steelers Is Done' - Sport News

Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger Unveils Shocking Take: ‘Maybe The Tradition Of The Pittsburgh Steelers Is Done’

The Pittsburgh Steelers have an aura. They represent hard-nosed, tough football in a blue-collar town that loves them for it. It is part of the franchise’s DNA and is as familiar to fans as the black and gold jerseys they wear on gameday. It has defined the organization for decades.

Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger Unveils Shocking Take: "Maybe The Tradition Of The Pittsburgh Steelers Is Done"

The Steelers are more than a football team; they are a gateway to a different time in the NFL when physicality was embraced, and even their own quarterback criticized the NFL for being too soft. Pittsburgh forced NFL rule changes because other teams could not beat them under the existing conditions. From Mel Blount to James Harrison, the NFL has tried to legislate the Steelers Way out of football, and according to one Steelers icon, they may have finally succeeded.

Ben Roethlisberger Wonders If Steelers Are Still Intimidating

On Monday, during the Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger podcast, the former Steelers quarterback waxed poetic about the recent heyday of the franchise. He recalled a time, not so long ago, when the Steelers had a significant advantage over the rest of the league. Roethlisberger, who has had some keen insights in 46 episodes of his podcast, let fly with some painful words that Steeler Nation needed to hear.

“I felt like when I first got in this league, and part of it was because of the talent we had, when we showed up, we were up three or seven to nothing no matter who we were playing,” Roethlisberger told his co-host Spencer Te’o. “The second we got off the bus – three nothing, seven nothing us, because people were intimidated by our defense. People were intimidated by how good our offense could be. I feel like some of that is lost.”

Roethlisberger was thrust into the starting role after an injury to Tommy Maddox in his rookie year. The Steelers defense was so good that Bill Cowher asked Roethlisberger to manage games. Cowher didn’t know, but quickly learned that he had a unique talent who could do more than manage games.

Cowher and, later, Tomlin knew that opponents were so intimidated by the physicality of the Steelers that they played the game differently. Teams abandoned the run before the game even started. It is not hyperbole, by forcing teams to abandon the run before kickoff, with the notable exception of the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh forced opponents into one-dimensional football. The mere sight of the Steelers defense disadvantaged most teams.

“I think our defense can still be very intimidating,” Roethlisberger continued. “I just feel like people aren’t afraid to play the Pittsburgh Steelers anymore. I don’t know. Maybe the tradition of the Pittsburgh Steelers is done. Maybe it needs to be formed a new kind of way.”

Roethlisberger’s partner since the podcast’s inception, Spencer Te’o, was surprised to hear the insight. The Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger podcast has had more than its fair share of reactions from the national media. Te’o smiled into the camera and pointed out that Roethlisberger would find his way into the spotlight with another viral observation.

“There’s your headline guys,” Te’o remarked. “Ben Roethlisberger says… that’s interesting man. I’ve been asking myself, I’ve been asking friends. It is obviously a different team we are watching. Something’s off. We hope you right the ship.”

The Steelers have leaders with Cam Heyward, TJ Watt, and Minkah Fitzpatrick on defense. They are aging, but Alex Highsmith, Keanu Benton, and Joey Porter Jr. look like fine additions who can at least carry the defensive traditions in Pittsburgh forward. The only current member of the offense who looks to be a leader is Broderick Jones, the Steelers’ first-round draft pick in 2023.

The player safety initiatives have curtailed the physicality of the NFL. It is essential to protect players, and for decades, the NFL denied and ignored disability claims from former players. Earl Campbell can barely walk. Mike Webster, Junior Seau, and countless other players who suffered the debilitating effects of CTE have shuffled off this mortal coil far too soon. The game needed to evolve, but the NFL has overcorrected.

It is turning the sport into a caricature of itself, and sacrificing the Steelers’ style of play is just a necessary evil for the modern NFL. Roethlisberger recognized that something had been lost in Pittsburgh and could not fix it before he retired. It has gotten steadily worse over the last two seasons and Tomlin and his coaching staff either have demonstrated that they either don’t possess the ability, or the desire to adapt the Steelers Way to the new reality of the NFL. The scary truth is it might be both.

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