While Heyward said his intention wasn’t to throw shade towards Roethlisberger, he certainly disagrees.
“It looks as though we are looked at as selfish players, and I don’t think that’s the point,” Heyward said on the “Not Just Football with Cam Heyward” podcast. “We have a lot of young players that come from different backgrounds, have experienced different things from what others or I may have experienced. That doesn’t make them selfish or more of a me-type attitude. … There are a lot more team-first guys than me-type attitude. I took offense to that.”
Ben Roethlisberger Says Today’s NFL Players are “Coddled”
The former Steelers quarterback pointed out in a recent interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the game had changed since his debut in 2004. Roethlisberger, 40, went onto say that players coming through the ranks today are “coddled.”
“The team was so important,” Roethlisberger said. “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. It’s hard for these young guys, too. Social media. 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. Neither did [Bill] Cowher.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers Have Struggled to Make Much Noise in the Playoffs
Roethlisberger, who played 18 seasons in Pittsburgh before retiring after this past season, implied that the Steelers’ playoff failures in the last few years could be contributed to the change in mindset of players compared to when he first entered the league. Pittsburgh has gone one-and-done in each of their last three playoff appearances.
Heyward believes Roethlisberger “was a little out on that” assessment.
“I’m accountable for those guys,” Heyward said. “Obviously we haven’t had a Super Bowl in a long time, and maybe that’s where Ben is like, ‘Man, if those guys would have grown up.’ But it’s up to the older guys to step up and hold guys accountable. … It’s up to a vet to put you under your wing and pull you across and say, ‘Hey, this is what it’s like to be Pittsburgh Steeler.’ And that’s what I’m trying to do.
“Maybe Ben didn’t see it that way, but man, I’m going to protect my guys. You just can’t say it’s a ‘me-type of attitude’ now. Everyone’s out to be a Super Bowl winner, make money, one day be an MVP. But when it all comes together, we care about one thing, this logo right here. … I’ve always tried to extend that to my younger teammates. I think Ben was a little out on that one.”
With Roethlisberger retired, Heyward is now the longest-tenured Steeler. He’s entering his 12th season in the “Steel City” and appears to be getting better with age. Heyward, 33, earned the third All-Pro selection of his career last season. Heyward racked up 10.0 sacks and a career-high 89 tackles.