Insider Only Inside Buzz: Whispers on Big Ben’s frustration with ‘Me First Players’, Todd Haley

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TIOPS INSIDE BUZZ

Will Ben Roethlisberger really retire this off-season where he would have to pay the Steelers $18 million of his signing bonus back?

Financial reasons alone say probably not.

However, here are some whispers on where some inside the organization believe Ben’s frustration/retirement talk is coming from:

1. Ben can’t stand ‘today’s player’ as one source close to the situation put it. He loves his offensive line and the long-time veterans in that room, but Steelers officials sense it’s becoming a lot easier for Roethlisberger to potentially walk away 2-3 years earlier than anyone imagined when he feels more of his teammates are about themselves/brand than playing for the logo. He has expressed these concerns to Mike Tomlin all season.

To go with that, health didn’t just drive Heath Miller away. Miller a close friend of Roethlisberger, no longer believed the Steelers had a group that was playing for the right things and that factor also made it easier for him to walk away when he still had a couple more seasons left in him.

When Roethlisberger came into the league, his first four to five years he was a wild man off the field and that persona of him rubbed a lot of players the wrong way and he didn’t have many friends. But, inside the building things were different. The majority were after the same thing.

Roethlisberger was brought up with a veteran group that was driven to win for the logo and Roethlisberger as a young player also adopted that philosophy from the start. That was a big part of the Steelers building something from 04-11 as other young players would follow.

There was an identity inside the building that is now absent.

Back then, players who didn’t fit the mold, the Steelers would get their use out of them and then ship them out like Santonio Holmes.

The last 2-3 years it just no longer exists in the organization. So much is now about ‘me’ first and ‘my’ brand, with the logo second. —

Do the Steelers have much fear Roethlisberger will retire this off-season?

No they don’t, but the Steelers brass believes at his age the time could be sooner than expected and this is at the forefront of Roethlisberger’s frustrations right now.

Roethlisberger/Haley Dynamic

Tomlin copy2. Steelers officials also believe Ben is sending a message in that he wouldn’t mind an offensive coordinator change. What he’s doing is not demanding a change but this is classic Ben in getting in Mike Tomlin’s ear to make him think about a change as talk inside Steelers circles is the Roethlisberger – Haley relationship has run its course.

Despite a nine game winning streak into the AFC title game, the two clashed for much of this season behind the scenes and things took a turn for the worst during the Baltimore game on Christmas Day when Roethlisberger and Haley didn’t see eye-to-eye on the game plan.

Plain and simple, the talk around the Steelers right now is Ben believes the offense has been stagnant under Haley and hasn’t taken that critical next step to being elite in four years under Haley’s direction. Roethlisberger finished the season with 7 touchdowns and 9 interceptions over his final six games.

Roethlisberger this week called the Steelers “unprepared and out-coached” multiple times. Those close to the situation believe those were direct shots at Haley, who has a reputation among players of not going the extra mile in preparing for opponents and is notoriously late for offensive Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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