Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers embracing Ben Roethlisberger’s flawed brand of leadership

Ben Roethlisberger likes to call out his teammates publicly, but the Steelers are making sure it’s known they like that brand of leadership.

If only by status, if not also by salary, the quarterback is hoisted up as a football team’s leader. Ben Roethlisberger is that for the Pittsburgh Steelers, with two Super Bowl rings to give him increased credibility as his words matter to his teammates.

The Steelers produce a lot of drama, mostly self-inflicted, and the current face of that is Antonio Brown as he pushes for a trade. One of the elements of that is the way his relationship with Roethlisberger has apparently dissolved, and for all his flaws that’s a battle Brown knows he can’t win within the organization.

Roethlisberger likes to take his criticism of teammates public, via a weekly in-season appearance on a radio show in Pittsburgh. There’s nothing wrong with criticizing teammates on its face, but rather than airing things out in a public forum the comments might be more productive if they’re kept private.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert spoke on a wide range of topics Wednesday, including Le’Veon Bell and a prospective Brown trade, before turning to Roethlisberger and how he exhibits leadership.

Here are some of Colbert’s comments, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

Ben is the unquestioned leader of this group,” “Like I said, he’s the elder statesmen and the Super Bowl winner. If our players were smart, they’d listen to him because he’s been there. He’s done it. He can tell them, ‘No guys, what you’re doing is or is not good enough to do this.’

“I think that once you win it, you’ve got 53 guys who can say what it took. Right now, he’s the only one, so I have no problem with him. He can call me out and that’s fine. What he does, I totally respect because I see him too many times win games for us and come through in situations.

Colbert is inviting Roethslisberger to call him out too, but that is a fine line which most players aren’t encouraged to cross. Where does it stop? Head coach Mike Tomlin could be put on blast by Roethlisberger at any point with free reign to do so, and a critique of ownership might not be far behind that.

Aside from his effort on social media to force a trade, Brown offered a calculated criticism of Roethlisberger in response to a question on Twitter.

Next: Antonio Brown trade rumors: 5 teams who should be in the mix

Criticism isn’t always well-received, which causes fear to offer it. Roethlisberger shouldn’t be afraid to correct and critique teammates, but he has clearly blown past the line of what would be considered reasonable to do publicly. The radio station he appears on surely loves it, since he’ll say things that get attention, and if it wasn’t clear before the Steelers have made it clear they like the way their quarterback shows leadership.

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