View Full Version : Steelers strangers to controversy, unrest

11-30-2009, 10:04 PM
Steelers strangers to controversy, unrest
Posted Nov. 30, 2009 @ 5:43 p.m.
By Mike Wilkening

The Steelers find themselves in the midst of a three-game losing streak and in the teeth of controversy Monday after WR Hines Ward suggested some in the Steelers locker room might have wanted QB Ben Roethlisberger to play in spite of a concussion in the Week 12 loss to Baltimore.

Ward made the comments to NBC in an interview aired before the Steelers fell 20-17 in overtime to the Ravens with Dennis Dixon, not Roethlisberger, at quarterback.

"This game is almost like a playoff game," Ward said in a transcript released by NBC. "It's almost a must-win. I could see some players or teammates questioning, like 'It's just a concussion. I've played with a concussion before.' It's almost like a 50-50 toss up in the locker room. Should he play? Shouldn't he play? It's really hard to say.

"I've been out there dinged up, the following week, got right back out there. Ben practiced all week. He split time with Dennis Dixon. And then to find out that he's still having some headaches and not playing and it came down to the doctors didn't feel that they were going to clear him or not. It's hard to say. Unless you're the person itself.

"I've lied to a couple of doctors saying I'm straight, I feel good when I know that I'm not really straight. I don't think guys really worry about the future while they're playing currently in the NFL. Trust me, the players want to go out there because these games you don't get back. You're never going to get this Baltimore-Pittsburgh game back. This is a big game. Unfortunately, Ben can't play, so the 53 other guys have to rally the team and see if we can win one down here."

After the game, Ward said that finding out just one day before the game that Roethlisberger was out was "frustrating." However, he indicated he wasn't being criticial toward Roethlisberger.

"You really don't want to mess around with concussions," Ward said. "Guys have concussions and still play. But you have to look at the whole big picture. When the health comes into question, you got to look at the long-term effect. When I said that, I really wasn't saying (it) in a negative towards Ben. You have to be concerned about it because we don't know what the future may hold considering all the research on concussions. I wish we would have had him out there. But we didn't, and we fell short."

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he wasn't "worried about a problem in the locker room" after Roethlisberger didn't play and said suggested that Ward might have been "uninformed" about the circumstances that caused Dr. Joseph Maroon, the club's neurosurgeon, to suggest the club sit Roethlisberger in Week 12.

The PFW spin

Ward's comments to NBC were stunning on a number of levels. You just don't see players making anything but the most innocuous comments about another player's health. And, even supposing that Ward didn't mean to be critical of Roethlisberger, he should have known his comments were going to create more harm than good and become the story line to discuss as Pittsburgh begins preparation for a suddenly pivotal Week 13 game against Oakland, especially with the increased awareness of the seriousness of concussions.

It is particularly odd that Ward would make his remarks considering that Roethlisberger is regarded as one of the NFL's tougher quarterbacks, a player who has shown time and again he will hold on to the ball and stand in against the rush to allow his receivers to work open. Yes, Roethlisberger has missed games with injuries before, but he is hardly regarded as brittle; for example, Roethlisberger played in the Steelers' divisional-round win vs. San Diego in January just two weeks after suffering a spinal cord concussion, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette .

Expect Tomlin, Ward and Roethlisberger to address the situation publicly with the media in the coming days with an eye on quelling the controversy by mid-week. Privately, who knows how the Steelers will handle the situation? It's doubtful that it will affect their play on the field; this is a team, after all, that fell by just three points with Dixon making his first-ever start on Sunday, and all five of its losses have been by six points or less. The Steelers are unlikely to have much trouble with the Raiders on Sunday even if Dixon gets another start. The same can be said for the Week 14 matchup with the Browns at Cleveland on Thursday. Dec. 10. Dixon, who completed 12-of-26 passes for 145 yards with one passing TD, one rushing TD and one very costly interception in overtime, should improve with a start under his belt, and the Steelers could get by for the two games without him.

Of course, Sunday's loss at Baltimore looms large for Pittsburgh, and we'll never know if Roethlisberger would have been the difference between victory and defeat. It's also unclear whether he'll be back in the lineup this week. He practiced all last week before the Steelers made the decision to sit him because he was suffering from exercise-induced headaches, so no definitive call can be made right now.

We can say definitively that the Steelers aren't used to the distraction caused by one star player making curious, and perhaps critical, comments about another star player. The timing is bad, and the questions it raises are many. It is very, very surprising.

11-30-2009, 10:07 PM
Controversy? unrest? Where? :screwy:

11-30-2009, 10:07 PM
It is a little disturbing. Hines should have known better.

11-30-2009, 11:37 PM
Hines should have known better. What does he hope is the outcome? BB becomes tougher?! The he gets into a motorcycle crash, has an appendage removed and gets a concussion and plays? Oh wait, that happened! I just don;t know what he was hoping the outcome of those comments would be. I would love to know. Hines is a tough SOB but so is Ben. Wierd.

tony hipchest
11-30-2009, 11:45 PM
well it looks like hines ward will be the topic to have 100 threads about this week.

boomer had a great point on mnf countdown....

both starting qb's from last years superbowl had concussions and were medically cleared and expected to play. roger goodell just completed a trip to capitol hill and has vowed to crack down on players returning from concussions. this comes right in line with brian westbrook returning a week after a concussion and getting knocked out again (for who knows how long).

is it possible goodells office placed a call to last years sb participants and said "are you really really sure your qb's are ready to go".

no conspiracy theory here, but the last thing the nfl would want to see is kurt or ben in the same predicament westbrook is in. as much as goodell seems anti-steelers, the nfl loves a great superstar qb who is a draw.

ben and kurt are that. :tap:

11-30-2009, 11:53 PM
We all know Hines is a competitor and winner, but I didn't think he'd talk like this in public.

11-30-2009, 11:57 PM
We all know Hines is a competitor and winner, but I didn't think he'd talk like this in public.

"Tom Brady wouldn't ask for that." - Ward's public reply to Ben's request for a tall WR two years ago.

Ward's always been a walking soundbite.

tony hipchest
11-30-2009, 11:58 PM
SWEEEEEEED!!!!! :tt02:

12-01-2009, 01:05 PM
]"Tom Brady wouldn't ask for that."[/B] - Ward's public reply to Ben's request for a tall WR two years ago.

Ward's always been a walking soundbite.
Ward was right about this comment.

12-01-2009, 01:14 PM
All of this is booosh's fault. Every damn bit of it. He knew it was coming and did nothing. In fact, he laughed. "Hey Hamp. You guys are @#$%ed.".