Pittsburgh Steelers captain Cameron Heyward opposed to by Ben Roethlisberger recent claim that too many current NFL players have “a me-type attitude”, saying his former teammate’s comments “rub me the wrong way”.
Roethlisberger, in an extensive interview published Friday by the Pittsburgh Post Gazettesaid “the game has changed” and “people have changed” when he addressed the differences he noticed between his early years and later years with the Steelers.
“The team was so important,” Roethlisberger said, referring to his early seasons with Pittsburgh. “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 bit, but that’s what I learned the most from start to finish. It went from a team attitude to a me type attitude It was tough. It’s tough for these young guys, too. Social media. They’re treated so well in college. Now this new NIL stuff, which is amazing. They’re treated so special. They are pampered at a young age because college coaches need them to win too. [Terry] Hoeppner never coddled me. Neither [Bill] Cowherd.”
Heyward was Roethlisberger’s teammate from 2011 until last season, when the future Hall of Fame quarterback retired. In the most recent edition of his podcast, Heyward said he disagreed with Roethlisberger’s observation, saying it made him “a little angry.”
“It seems like we’re seen as selfish players, and I don’t think that’s the point,” the veteran defensive lineman said on the “Not Just Football with Cam Heyward” podcast. “We have a lot of young players who come from different backgrounds, have been through different things than others or I may have been through. That doesn’t make them selfish or more of a me type attitude…. There are a lot more guys who favor the team than me. I was offended by that.”
Heyward, 33, cited several current and former Steelers, including Antonio Brown, Ju Ju Smith Schuster, Tyson Alalu and Brett Keisel – who had a positive impact on the locker room and the organization, calling them “team guys” despite criticism of their personality.
A team captain since 2015, Heyward also said “it’s up to the leadership, myself included” to help acclimate young players to the NFL and the culture of the Steelers, who won two Super Bowls with Roethlisberger.
“I’m responsible for these guys,” Heyward said. “Obviously we haven’t had a Super Bowl in a long time, and maybe that’s where Ben is thinking, ‘Man, if those guys had grown up. But it’s up to the older guys to step in and hold the guys accountable. … It’s up to a vet to put you under your wing and walk you through and say, ‘Hey, that’s how it is to be Pittsburgh Steeler.’ And that’s what I try to do.
“Maybe Ben didn’t see it that way, but man, I’m gonna protect my guys. You just can’t say that’s a ‘me’ type attitude now. Everybody wants to win. the Super Bowl, make the money, be an MVP one day. But when it all falls into place, we care about one thing, this logo here. … I’ve always tried to extend that to my most young teammates. I think Ben was a bit off that one.”
Roethlisberger, 40, played his entire 18-year career as a starting quarterback for the Steelers before retiring last January. He was a six-time Pro Bowler, finished his career with the fifth-most passing yards (64,088) in NFL history, and led the Steelers to Super Bowl championships after the 2005 and 2008 seasons. .
Heyward stressed that he was “not casting a shadow” on Roethlisberger, saying he was “explaining my position”.
“Don’t say Cam calls Ben – it’s not like that,” Heyward said. “But I will say I will protect my team. I will make sure everyone knows that we only care about the football on the pitch and less off the pitch. We can all relate that Ben has been one hell of a QB. You don’t don’t do this game and become a hall of fame quarterback and do it on a low level.
“Ben took hits that few other teams could. He saved us, he won games we weren’t supposed to win, and he always stepped up. But it’s the team around him who helped him do it, and I don’t want anyone to forget that the whole team won, not just Ben.”