The Fall of the Killer B’s: Part I

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an article by Angel Maldonado

Part 1: Big Ben

Ben Roethlisberger is a Hall of Famer. He’s won two rings, led the league in passing this last year, and has led one of the most dynamic offenses in NFL history to the playoffs for the majority of his career. However, despite having one of the most talented rosters in the league year in and year out, the Steelers haven’t won a championship this decade. Nobody is denying Big Ben’s talent,  but could his leadership style be preventing the Steelers from reaching their full potential? When facing the facts, the answer is clearly yes. It is this lack of leadership that proved to be a big part of the end of the Killer B’s. We take a look at how Big Ben’s lack of leadership hurt his team and ultimately helped contribute to the end of an Era in Pittsburgh.

He Hasn’t Won A Super Bowl as THE Leader

Big Ben won two championships early on in his career and he played an important role in leading his team to victory. But, was he the guy people looked up to? Is he the guy that led the younger teammates and helped their confidence? No. Those men were clearly Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward. The two Hall of Famers were the heart and soul of the 2000’s Steelers teams. They played with toughness, grit, and a passion for the game, much like Big Ben does today. So what is the difference between Big Ben and Hines Ward/Troy Polamalu? Hines Ward answered that question a few days ago: “But yes, Ben is the leader of that [current] team. He’s been there, he’s done that. I just think he has to take the initiative to kinda do more as a leader. Not just being able to call guys out on his radio show. Take them behind — treat them like, you know we always say we’re a band of brothers — like, pull me to the side, let me know what I can do to get better. You don’t have to air it out to the public where everyone can hear.” And that is exactly the problem with Big Ben. When he has a problem he is not afraid to share it with the media. In football, a sport built on brotherhood and trust, this can fracture the trust teammates have on the person that is supposed to lead them to the Super Bowl. That is part of the reason why Antonio Brown ended up so frustrated with him. He didn’t take criticism well and he often deflected it to anyone but himself. When he didn’t deflect the game, he took criticism in a very sarcastic manner and a way that inspired doubt among his teammates. It’s east to see how this type of leadership would prevent a team from going to the Super Bowl, and that is exactly what happened in Pittsburgh.


He Isolates His Teammates

The way he leads does not inspire, it isolates. It isolates individuals and places the blame on them. Instead of motivating his teammates he places a public spotlight on them and brings in unwanted attention. A prime example of that occurred after a loss to the Broncos in 2018.  Via NFL.com, he said the following: “Being around for a long time with a lot of different players,” Roethlisberger said. “You have to know how to motivate different guys in different ways. I think that’s part of being a leader, being a captain, just understanding players. Sometimes you just grab them off to the side, and sometimes you have to be honest with them.” That sounds great… but the problem is he clearly didn’t understand the players. Antonio Brown, an All-Pro receiver, left in part due to Big Ben’s leadership style. When responding to a question asking how he thinks the younger guys feel about him calling them out in public, he stated: “Go ask them, I have no idea…” It doesn’t seem like he cared if they took it the wrong way because he 100% believed he was entitled to do what he was doing. That’s an issue. It’s an issue that led to ugly media sessions and verbal spats. This is the type of commotion that kills teams and it’s one of the issues that killed an era.

Big Ben is the last Killer B still in Pittsburgh. He’s the franchise and he is a future Hall of Famer. Still, he played an important role in the end of the Killer B’s and the lack of a championship in their era. Perhaps if Ben had been a better leader, some of the issues surrounding the Steelers could have dissipated. But, he is far from the only person to blame for the end of the era. There’s two Killer B’s left, and they both played a major role in the demise of the Steelers.

Part 2 Coming Soon…

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