View Full Version : Whisenhunt's comments could sting Steelers

02-25-2007, 11:51 PM
Whisenhunt's comments could sting Steelers

By John Harris
Monday, February 26, 2007


Former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt passed on the opportunity to take the high road when discussing the 2006 performance of his prized pupil, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Whisenhunt, now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, told members of the national media assembled at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that the Steelers rushed Roethlisberger into the lineup too quickly following his near-fatal motorcycle accident and subsequent emergency appendectomy.

Whisenhunt said that the Steelers' coaching staff miscalculated Roethlisberger's readiness to play, even when his poor decision-making and "trauma" in the pocket became painfully obvious.

Whisenhunt said a mouthful.

Although Whisenhunt spoke with no malice, his words did the Steelers, and Roethlisberger, more harm than good.

Expect Roethlisberger and some of his teammates to be asked about Ben's play last season. Also expect a lot of tight-lipped answers to annoying questions, questions that probably wouldn't have been asked before Whisenhunt opened a football Pandora's box.

Truth be told, Whisenhunt could have easily passed on opening old wounds. He no longer works for the Steelers. He could have said, "I coach the Arizona Cardinals. What's in the past is ancient history."

Most coaches in Whisenhunt's position would have sidestepped the issue. Political correctness, you know.

That Whisenhunt felt compelled to openly discuss Roethlisberger's struggles when former head coach Bill Cowher went out of his way not to target Roethlisberger's poor play as a major reason for the Steelers' 8-8 record a year after winning Super Bowl XL leads to speculation about the motivation for Whisenhunt's commentary.

Cowher, in fact, diverted attention from Roethlisberger's performance contributing to the Steelers' .500 season when he didn't start cornerback Ike Taylor for five games.

Was Whisenhunt's response a subtle form of payback for not getting the Steelers' job that went to Mike Tomlin?

Maybe Whisenhunt was simply blowing off steam, maybe he was honestly answering questions about the star quarterback on his former team, and maybe he was getting the Steelers out of his system once and for all.

Whisenhunt didn't exactly toss Roethlisberger under the bus, but he didn't endear himself to Ben, either.

Just the fact that Whisenhunt finally said publicly what many people believed privately to be true about Roethlisberger's season indicates that perhaps the relationship between Cowher, Roethlisberger and Whisenhunt wasn't all that great to begin with.

After all, would Whisenhunt have been so candid if he was the Steelers' new coach and was still working closely with Ben? Not if Whisenhunt wanted to risk losing the trust and confidence of his quarterback.

Whisenhunt was a key member of the Steelers' trusted inner circle under Cowher who decided to not let bygones be bygones. It's doubtful that Roethlisberger, or the Steelers, will ever look at Whisenhunt the same way again.


02-26-2007, 12:12 AM
I had no issues with what Whiz said. He only stated the obvious. This, of course, is the media making something out of nothing.

Stainless Steel
02-26-2007, 05:18 AM
I had no issues with what Whiz said. He only stated the obvious. This, of course, is the media making something out of nothing.A fine example of the media trying to make news.

02-26-2007, 07:05 AM
Exactly. I have no doubt that Whiz said some things, but they probably weren't as scathing as the media is making it out to be.


Atlanta Dan
02-26-2007, 07:12 AM
I actually thought Whiz was throwing Ben a bone by saying Ben tried to tough it out and agree the writer is just trying to stir the pot.

The issue Harris declined to raise is whether Whiz argued Ben should sit for the Jax or Oakland games and was overruled - that actually could be relevant to why Whiz was not recommended for the HC job by Cowher.

02-26-2007, 07:15 AM
Whiz was painting a rosey picture for Ben's problems last year. I don't see this as anything that can sting. It stings Cowher, but who cares, he isn't here anymore :wave:

Soy Beverage Man Dan
02-26-2007, 07:29 AM
Mountains out of molehills.

02-26-2007, 08:02 AM
Coudn't agree more.

02-26-2007, 08:09 AM
I had no issues with what Whiz said. He only stated the obvious. This, of course, is the media making something out of nothing.

Exactly, klick. He came right out and said what most of us (and I'm sure the Steelers at some point) already suspected - no harm done, imho.

02-26-2007, 08:10 AM
I can't help but respectfully disagree. I think the writer is right. Is it a big deal? NO. Is it unprofessional? Yes.

Whiz could have and should have simply passed on the question. If he still worked for the Steelers then making comments about players or the coaching staff might be warranted and maybe even refreshingly forthright. I don't know what his exact comments were but critisizing a past employer in front of the national media is in bad taste whether your talking about the NFL, a Fortune 500 company or a ma and pa store down the street. It's a question of integrity....or a lack thereof.

I've never had a reason to dislike Whiz, he even had my unqualified vote for head coach - but if his idea of gaining respect by his franchise is tossing his old one under the bus.....especially when he was an intergral part of the coaching staff and the decisions they made.... than my reservations of him being passed over are quickly deminishing. Based on the very few press conferences I've heard with Tomlin, I already can't imagine him negatively commenting on the Viking management or the "men" that he coached....the man exudes respect with every word.

I've never heard a negative word from Whiz in the past. For him to make them now smacks of bitterness. Maybe, in a show of respect for his head coach and franchise, he felt he should refrain from making negative public comments during his time with the Steelers. All the more reason he should strive to avoid them now.

Like the writer said, we can now look forward to Ben being endlessly questioned about whether or not he was ready to play. My only hope is that Whiz enjoys similar type questioning regarding his lack of influence in major decisions during his tenure as offensive coordinator....such as whether the starting quarterback is of sound mind to play.

Just my opinion.

02-26-2007, 08:19 AM
Whiz just said exactly what ALL of us here thought & posted.

tony hipchest
02-26-2007, 08:27 AM
when his words are put back into context it doesnt sound like he is throwing anyone under the bus. hes pretty much saying he doesnt think ben has regressed.


But Whisenhunt also quickly noted that, given what the coaches knew in September, they made what they felt was the best decision at the time, and he was not critical of that.

Whisenhunt, though, believes Roethlisberger will bounce back.

"I see him as one of the top quarterbacks in the league. He's an outstanding young player. I think as he gets more experience he'll see things better and have opportunities to make more plays in the pocket, but he'll still have the element of being able to move outside the pocket."

Roethlisberger has a new head coach in Mike Tomlin, a new coordinator in Bruce Arians and a new quarterbacks coach in Ken Anderson.

"Well, he's always been very resilient in anything," Whisenhunt said of the effect it might have on the quarterback. "I think he's a competitor first and foremost. When he gets on the field, he's going to compete, he's going to have success."

02-26-2007, 08:32 AM
It actually seemed like at least to me that Whiz was supporting Ben

02-26-2007, 08:41 AM
Sorry about that, for some reason I haven't been able to connect to the Post Gazette this morning - so I wasn't able to read that article. I was only commenting on the one that lead this thread.

He sounds like he was casually reflecting on their decision. As long as he's not publicly critisizing someone in particular I don't have a problem with it.

I still haven't read the whole article but my apologies to Whiz.

02-26-2007, 09:56 AM
These writers really tick me off sometimes....

Whisenhunt gave candid, honest answers to the questions he was asked, a real rarity today, and as some posters have mentioned, he portrayed Ben in a very positive light. He said Ben was physicially healthy, and as we all know, the kid is as tough as nails and probably hounded the staff night and day about wanting to play.

Ben is going to be asked a ton of questions about how he feels this season vs. how he felt last season anyway, especially if the team starts off strong and he looks greatly improved. He may be asked to comment specifically on what Coach Whisenhunt said, but that's probably the only way the questions will differ from what they were already going to be. Keep in mind that he's still a 25 year old kid in a lot of ways, and don't be surprised if he doesn't own up to the truth of what Whisenhunt said -- he probably truly believes that he was just fine physically and emotionally. Consider it a huge leap in maturity for Ben if he admits to it.

If anything, Whisenhunt cast blame on himself for not being sensitive to the emotional aftermath of all Ben had been through. He took responsibility for what in hindsight was a poor decision -- of course most fans knew that at the time, but when you're so close to the situation, in the insulated bubble that is an NFL team during the season, and Ben is begging to play and insisting he's fine, maybe it's hard to see what's right in front of you. What a refreshing bit of honesty and personal accountability in this age of guarded, politically correct, scripted-sounding replies to media queries. I, for one, think even more highly of Whisenhunt than I already did. The guy is clearly a class act, and has shown that as a head coach, he'll be willing to call it as he sees it (and boy, can the Cardinals use someone like that!).

If Whisenhunt bears any ill will toward the Steelers and the Rooneys, it certainly wasn't evident at all in his remarks about Ben. I don't see how anyone would interpret his comments as a "dig" or malicious in intent. And yet someone just has to try stirring up controversy where none exists.

I lost most of my regard for the Tribune Review after the Russ Grimm debacle. You just have to consider the source, and there you have it.

02-26-2007, 11:04 AM
I don't think his comments were intended to damage but in the future he ought to refrain from answering questions about the Steelers and stick with commenting on the team he now coaches.

I wish him all the success in the world except when he plays us.

02-26-2007, 11:06 AM
What kills me is, isn't this exactly what the media outlets were saying during the season but now that a former coach says it, then they want to make an even larger of a mountain out of it!!!

Black@Gold Forever32
02-26-2007, 11:11 AM
Typical media trying to start crap for a story. I don't think Whiz knocked Ben at all. It was clear the injuries effected him. A blind man could have seen that.lol It didn't help matters that Ben trying to come back from his injuiries was sacked 45 times this year. When a QB is trying to regain his confidence in the pocket and has shaky pass protection isn't a good thing.

Hey I will never question Ben's toughness the man is a warrrior and I expect him to bounce back strong this year.

02-26-2007, 11:17 AM
That's the truth. I don't really think anyone, including me, have said that Whiz comments actually hurt the Steelers and Ben, but that it was the media and how they portrayed this whole ordeal, which to tell you the thruth this shouldn't be even classified as an ordeal. Whiz was speaking the truth, what happened to Ben effected the way he played, and even though I don't really think we needed someone to help us make that realization, at least we know that one of the former staff did see that. In any case, last season was last season, what was said was said. Ben will take this offseason to reflect on everyting and come back next year.


02-26-2007, 11:23 AM
After finally reading the Post Gazette article I've got no problem with what Whiz said. The Tribune editorial took his comments WAY out of context.....never seen the media do THAT.

02-26-2007, 02:42 PM
This is silly. How anyone could be paid to spin this into a controversy is beyond me. They will do anything to sell newspapers!

02-26-2007, 04:09 PM
I had no issues with what Whiz said. He only stated the obvious. This, of course, is the media making something out of nothing.

Exactly. Nothing else to write about.

02-26-2007, 04:22 PM
I jsut want to see ben play like he did his first year....

02-26-2007, 04:43 PM
Whiz was painting a rosey picture for Ben's problems last year. I don't see this as anything that can sting. It stings Cowher, but who cares, he isn't here anymore :wave:

Agreed 100%.