The Pittsburgh Steelers already bizarre off-season keeps getting weirder and weirder. Much like Punxatawny Phil only pokes his head out long enough to tell us whether we’re in for a long winter, Ben Roethlisberger usually disappears when the NFL season ends and doesn’t reappear until it’s time for a new year of pigskin action. He seldom courts the local media, preferring to lie low during the off-season. So naturally it’s a little strange to hear him popping up all over town, talking to anybody and everybody who’ll listen.
In fact, it seems the only person Ben hasn’t talked with is his new offensive coordinator, Todd Haley.
First, Ben gave an interview to the Post-Gazette where he made a few eyebrow-raising comments. Most notable was him saying, “I hope our offense doesn’t change because I feel like I’m just ready to hit it full stride and go with this.” Uh, does he even know we hired a new OC? I wonder because if the offense wasn’t meant to change, then why’d they bother bringing in a new coordinator?
The more interesting interview was conducted by local radio station, WDVE, which you can listen to here. When asked if the Steelers will still be a pass-first offense, he responded, “I just don’t see how you can get away from it when you have the talent we do at receiver and the tight end we have. It would be a waste of their skills not to use them.” I love how he disguises his desire to chuck the ball 40 times a game in a way that sounds as if he’s only looking out for his poor powerless teammates. Well played, Ben.
They also ask him about Todd Haley and his reputation for a being a hot-headed maniac. Ben begins by acknowledging he’s heard about Haley’s rep for being an in-your-face ball-buster although he hasn’t yet talked to him but in his opinion a good coach will tailor his attitude toward his team. When pressed about how he’d react to Haley yelling at him on the sideline, Ben sounded like a little kid who’s just been grounded. “Just talk to me so we can work through my reasoning instead of getting yelled at.” sayeth young Benjamin.
The hysterical portion of the interview was Ben’s convoluted reasoning for not wanting to be hollared at. He views the quarterback as a “cerebral position” so being yelled at would only clutter his mind. Oh yeah, when I think of deep thinkers, I think of Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, and Ben Roethlisberger. You’re not exactly Peyton Manning back there, big guy. Although if getting your ass chewed out will clutter your poor little head with too many thoughts, let’s hope Boss Todd refrains from doing so. Last thing we need is his already glacially slow decision-making process fogged by the paralyzing fear of a sideline tongue-lashing.
It also should be noted when Ben was asked about longtime nemesis Hines Ward and the possibility the greatest wide receiver in Steelers history won’t be back next year, Ben gave the most non-committal answer humanly possible. If somebody asks whether a valued co-worker should return to his job, a typical person would answer with a strong affirmation such as “Of course I want him back!” or “It won’t be the same without my go-to guy!” Ben simply said, “I’m not sure. We’ll see how it plays out in these next few months and whenever they make these decisions.” Whoa, fella, dial the effusive praise down a notch. We know you’re jealous of Hines and would like to see him gone so you can pretend to be the undisputed leader of the team but at least pretend he means something to you.
Then again, Ben shedding no tears at Hines riding off into the sunset isn’t a surprise. The fact that Todd Haley has been on the job for almost two weeks now and hasn’t even drunk dialed his superstar quarterback is. I don’t quite understand what’s going on there but it sounds like a power play. Like Ben believes his status as two time Super Bowl winner and one of the best signal callers in the game means Haley should defer to him by reaching out in the spirit of friendship. Meanwhile, Haley no doubt thinks he’s the boss by virtue of being coordinator and all and is waiting for his perceived underling to welcome him with open arms.
Who will blink first?