Ben Roethlisberger Says Today’s NFL Players are ‘Coddled,’ Not All About the Team

by Nick Geddes

With a NFL career that spanned nearly two decades, Ben Roethlisberger experienced the game change in many ways.

Some good — some not so good. Speaking recently with Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ben Roethlisberger put it all out in the open, saying today’s NFL players aren’t 100% about the team. They are, meanwhile, focused on other things such as themselves, Roethlisberger said.

“I feel like the game has changed,” Roethlisberger said. “I feel like the people have changed in a sense. Maybe it’s because I got spoiled when I came in. The team was so important. It was all about the team. Now, it’s about me and this, that and the other.

“I might be standing on a soapbox a little bit, but that’s my biggest takeaway from when I started to the end. It turned from a team-first to a me-type attitude. It was hard.” 

Did ‘Coddling’ of Players Hold Back Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Recent Years?

Ben Roethlisberger, 40, implied that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ recent lack of playoff success could be contributed to the change in mindset of players compared to when he first entered the league. Roethlisberger won Super Bowls in 2005 and 2008, but Pittsburgh’s playoff success tapered off during the back-half of his career. In his last three appearances in the postseason, Roethlisberger and the Steelers went one-and-done.

“It’s hard for these young guys, too. Social media,” Roethlisberger said. “They’re treated so well in college. Now, this new NIL stuff, which is unbelievable. They’re treated so special. They’re coddled at a young age because college coaches need them to win, too. I know coach [Terry] Hoeppner never coddled me [at Miami of Ohio]. Neither did [Bill] Cowher.”

Ben Roethlisberger addressed in the same interview what led to him returning for one more season in the “Steel City.” He said it was team owner Art Rooney Jr. who wanted him to return, while then-general manager Kevin Colbert seemed ready to move on.

“It was mostly Kevin. He was ready to move on,” Roethlisberger said. “I think Mike was a little ready to move on, but I think he was OK with me coming back. I think Mr. Rooney really wanted me to come back last year to play.”

Roethlisberger finished his career with a 9-7-1 campaign, with the Steelers falling to the Kansas City Chiefs, 42-21, in the AFC Wild Card round.