Roethlisberger: ‘I lacked in leadership’ in 2018

3:42 PM ETJeremy FowlerESPN Staff Writer CloseESPN staff writer
Previously a college football reporter for CBSSports.com
University of Florida graduatePITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger took accountability for the Steelers’ 2018 season in four important words.”I lacked in leadership,” Roethlisberger said after the team’s first organized team activities session Tuesday. “Because that’s my job as the leader of this team, to get us to the playoffs. I’m gonna need to focus and refocus my energy and time on, how can I be a better leader to get us back to the playoffs?”Addressing the local media at large for the first time this offseason, Roethlisberger discussed his future and the aftermath of the Antonio Brown trade, which placed a spotlight on the quarterback’s leadership style. Brown and several other ex-teammates criticized Roethlisberger for publicly calling out teammates on his weekly radio show last season. Roethlisberger acknowledged in an interview with KDKA-TV Pittsburgh that he probably went too far in publicly criticizing Brown’s route running after a Week 12 loss to Denver.Roethlisberger, 37, said because leadership challenges change every year with new locker room personalities, he plans to get to know his teammates on and off the field.”You just have to focus on the guys that are here and make sure they are good,” Roethlisberger said. “Everyone I’ve talked to is good with me … We’ve been attacked from all angles this year, this offseason. We just need to stick together and have each other’s backs.”Guard Ramon Foster anticipates that Roethlisberger will only grow as a leader.”If you have a relationship with him, you know how he is, what kind of person he is,” Foster said. “If you ask something of him, he’s going to be able to deliver.”While Roethlisberger hasn’t decided whether to continue his radio show — he doesn’t plan to offend anyone if he stays on air, he said — he noted that his recent three-year contract extension is a firm commitment. The new deal takes Roethlisberger to age 39.”I’ve always honored my contracts and I’m going to continue to honor it,” he said.That is the future, but regarding the past, Roethlisberger was introspective when asked how he processed the messy divorce with Brown. Roethlisberger explained he never got the chance to apologize to Brown, who tweeted in February that the quarterback has an “owner mentality.”Said Roethlisberger about Brown’s eventual departure: “It was hard to process it, because I never knew anything. Last time we spoke was on Thursday before the last game. We hugged. We had a great talk. Everything was good. I knew nothing. So, it was hard for me to know anything. Then I heard from a third party there were issues. I reached out to him many times, sent him texts, sent him calls — this is all before the season was over. Never heard back. So I could never really find out what was going on. For me, that’s why it was so confusing. I didn’t know where it came from. The week before was the Saints game, right? Unbelievable game. I never really saw any of it coming. I would have loved to have had the chance to talk to him. That’s why I said yesterday, whatever I did to offend him, I apologize for it. I tried to do that in person, talk to him. He wouldn’t allow me to.”Roethlisberger thought the two would talk once Brown returned to the Steelers, but the team traded Brown to the Oakland Raiders in March.They might not ever have that talk. Brown tweeted the words “Two face” on Monday, shortly after Roethlisberger’s quotes from the KDKA interview surfaced online.

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