Last we left our co-host, he was thrilled with the play of tight end Jesse James and explained a weird pseudo-block on Browns defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah.
This week, Roethlisberger used a large chunk of his weekly appearance on 93.7 The Fan to go through the process that led to him carrying out a flag honoring Dan Rooney ahead of Sunday’s home opener vs. the Vikings.
The move was in the works at the start of the week, but by Saturday morning, Roethlisberger was hearing that it had been scrapped.
“I was kind of disappointed, because I thought it would be awesome to do, to honor him, but [it’s] totally [Art Rooney II]’s wishes or whoever it was,” Roethlisberger said.
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“And then Saturday morning at the walkthrough, I felt some kind of way, like, ‘Man I really wish we would do this. I’m sure there’s going to be lots of tributes to him today, but this is a way that I would love to honor him.’ And it’s kind of the player’s way, you run out with the flag between all the guys.”
So, he lobbied a bit.
“And so I was gonna say something to [Art Rooney II]. I saw Thomas Tull, one of our owners, at the walkthrough and I said something to him. I know him and Art are pretty close, so I said something to [Tull], I said ‘Hey, here’s what we were gonna do. Art said no. Can you maybe talk to him? I’m gonna try to talk to him after the walkthrough, but maybe you can say something before.’ And [Tull] thought it was a great idea as well.”
“Art came up to me after the walkthrough and said, ‘Hey Ben, would you like to do it?’ And I said ‘Absolutely.’ I think he was concerned it would be a burden … I was like, ‘Mr. Rooney, it would be an honor to do it. I would love to do it.’ So he said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’”
“As for what it meant for me, it meant the world. … To really honor [Dan Rooney], after the game, same thing, giving the game ball to Art.”
Host Ron Cook pointed out that Rooney pushed the football ops staff to draft Roethlisberger back in 2003, and Roethlisberger acknowledged that.
“I owe him everything from being here and being a Steeler, winning Super Bowls, to my family. I wouldn’t have my wife and kids if it wasn’t for [Dan Rooney],” he said. “So yeah, I’ve heard those stories, and I think that’s why I think maybe it meant so much. Literally, I had tears in my eyes during the national anthem with the symphony.”
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— He was neutral on the “Casino Night” celebration, save for one element.
“There’s a funny clip where [JuJu Smith-Schuster] caught his first touchdown. He did something, and [David DeCastro] was running over the celebrate with JuJu and JuJu starts to do the dice or whatever they were doing, and Dave just like turns and walks away from it. It’s one of the funniest things you’ll ever see. Dave’s like, ‘I’m not getting involved in those shenanigans.’”
Yep, that checks out.
Roethlisberger was less neutral on Smith-Schuster. He’s impressed.
“We put him in more difficult situations every week, more situations every week, and [Mike Tomlin] asks me ‘hey, are we doing too much? Are we doing too much? Let me know if it seems like he’s a little confused, if he’s not processing things as fast.’ And I don’t see any of it.’”
— Roethlisberger also signed off on Martavis Bryant, who had a 27-yard touchdown catch, a 51-yard reception and drew a huge pass interference call in his second game back after a yearlong suspension.
“I thought he played well. I thought the first week, not that he didn’t play well, but he was still getting back into it. It’s different than a preseason game, it’s a regular-season game. And he was close. And then [against Minnesota], we kind of saw some Martavis. I still think there’s still room out there for some growth. I think there’s still room for even more to come. And I think [it] will,” Roethlisberger said.
He went out of his way to note the 13-yard catch on third down Bryant had directly before the 51-yarder.
“What he brings on the deep ball and the slant for a touchdown, those are great things, but for me it’s maybe the other stuff he did that I thought was great.”
— It was a relatively quiet day for Antonio Brown (five catches, 62 yards). No problems there, though.
“Yeah, he was good. There was some frustration at times, but everybody gets frustrated. But it’s really just because you want to do everything you can to help the team, you know? No issues at all from him, and he still had some timely, timely catches that help us,” Roethlisberger said.
Speaking generally about keeping players happy with their touches, Roethlisberger said, essentially, what happens happens.
“At the end of the day, if it’s gonna hurt the team, I just say ‘Eh, you’re just gonna have to deal with it, and winning’s more important.’ They can be mad at me all they want, but they’d better realize if we won the game, that’s all that matters.”
— Roethlisberger also asked people to pray for former teammate Lawrence Timmons, who unexpectedly left the Dolphins over the week, and talked about James Harrison’s lack of playing time, which Gerry Dulac covered in more detail elsewhere.