Ben Roethlisberger defends his right to publicly criticize teammates

Ben Roethlisberger made some waves when he was critical of some teammates and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner after the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to the Denver Broncos, and he’ll create some more headlines by defending his right to do it.

On his weekly appearance with 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger said Antonio Brown could have run a better route on a late interception, that Fichtner should have called four straight plays to JuJu Smith-Schuster on the team’s final drive, and that rookie James Washington was “not going to be out there” if he had plays like his dropped pass against Denver. 

That’s a lot to unload in one interview. It’s rare to see a quarterback call out teammates or coaches in the media, but Roethlisberger has often spoken his mind before.

And before everyone dumps back on Roethlisberger, his explanation Wednesday did make sense.

Ben Roethlisberger said he was motivating teammates

According to TribLive.com, Roethlisberger didn’t back down from his comments.

“I think I have earned the right to be able to do that with as long as I have been here,” Roethlisberger said, “and I’ll just be just as critical of myself [in the media], as well.”

Roethlisberger has criticized his own play before, so he has a point there. And it’s not like what he said was out of line. It’s hard to argue with any of it. And Roethlisberger’s reasoning was that he wasn’t just taking shots to do it, he was trying to motivate.

“Being around for a long time with a lot of different players,” Roethlisberger said, via TribLive. “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.”

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Ben Roethlisberger throughout his career
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Ben Roethlisberger throughout his career
24 April 2004: Ben Roethlisberger selected 11th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2004 NFL Draft at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. (Photo by Bob Leverone/Sporting News via Getty Images)
OXFORD, OH - SEPTEMBER 7: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks looks on during a game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Yager Stadium on September 7, 2002 in Oxford, Ohio. The Hawkeyes won 29-24. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
1 Sep 2001: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Miami Ohio Redhawks throwing the ball during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Wolverines defeated the Redhawks 31-13.Mandatory Credit: Danny Moloshok /Allsport
24 April 2004: Ben Roethlisberger selected 11th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2004 NFL Draft at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. (Photo by Bob Leverone/Sporting News via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 21: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers on the sideline during the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-3 preseason game win over the Houston Texans on August 21, 2004 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 31: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers records a video while arriving at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport on January 31, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 6: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the field before a game against the Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field on December 6, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Raiders defeated the Steelers 27-24. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 22: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warming up before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on November 22, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs defeated the Steelers 27-24. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after Rashard Mendenhall #34 ran for an eight yard touchdown against the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter of Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 06: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up prior to playing the Oakland Raiders on December 6, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers calls a play in the huddle against the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Packers won 31-25. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 06: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates a second quarter touchdown while playing the Oakland Raiders on December 6, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 and Running Back Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers enjoy the presentation of the Lamar Hunt Tropy after a win against the New York Jets during the AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Steelers beat the Jets, 24-19, to advance to the Super Bowl. (Photo by Al Pereira/New York Jets/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass against the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Packers won 31-25. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 15: NFL player Ben Roethlisberger (C) accepts the award for Best Game, Steelers vs. Cardinals Super Bowl XLIII on behalf of the Pittsburgh Steelers onstage during the 2009 ESPY Awards held at Nokia Theatre LA Live on July 15, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The 17th annual ESPYs will air on Sunday, July 19 at 9PM ET on ESPN. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 18: Injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers talks to offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey #53 and Ramon Foster #73 during a game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on November 18, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Ravens defeated the Steelers 13-10. The Steelers wore throwback uniforms based on the uniform worn by the Steelers in 1934. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 12: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball in the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field on November 12, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in action during the New York Giants V Pittsburgh Steelers NFL American Football match at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ, USA. 4th November 2012. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 02: Super Bowl Champion Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger visits 'Late Show with David Letterman' at the Ed Sullivan Theater on February 2, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage)
Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh greets injured Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before their game on Sunday, November 18, 2012, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Doug Kapustin/MCT via Getty Images)
Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the New York Giants V Pittsburgh Steelers NFL American Football match at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ, USA. 4th November 2012. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 09: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers passes the ball against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 9, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Pereira/New York Jets/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 09: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the New York Jets during a game at MetLife Stadium on November 9, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 09: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action against the New York Jets on November 9, 2014 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets defeated the Steelers 20-13. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 26: John Kuhn #29 of the New Orleans Saints talks after a preseason game with Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 26, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Steelers defeated the Saints 27-14. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 12: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action during the game against the Detroit Lions on August 12, 2016 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 09: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action during the game against the New York Jets on October 9, 2016 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 09: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the bench while playing the New York Jets at Heinz Field on October 9, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won the game 31-13. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 09: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass while playing the New York Jets at Heinz Field on October 9, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 15: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) before the AFC Divisional playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs on January 15, 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers and quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs talk on the field post game in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 15: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) hands off to running back Le'Veon Bell (26) in the third quarter of the AFC Divisional playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs on January 15, 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. The Steelers won 18-16 to advance to the AFC Championship game. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 24: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers calls out a formation against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Steelers 23-17 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on before taking the snap during an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 17, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) and coach Mike Tomlin listen to the National Anthem before the start of Super Bowl XLV where the Green Bay Packers face the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, February 6, 2011. (Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT via Getty Images)
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Roethlisberger said he has the right to be critical

When Roethlisberger was asked what his teammates think of him criticizing them publicly, he replied, “Go ask them. I have no idea.”

While Roethlisberger’s “earned the right” clip will get the most attention, is he wrong? He’s a six-time Pro Bowler, a two-time Super Bowl champion and likely going to the Hall of Fame. Quarterbacks throughout time have had uncomfortable confrontations with teammates to get results. In his 15th season, Roethlisberger probably has earned that right, even if getting on them publicly is unusual. 

“I would hope that they would understand that as the quarterback and the captain that I have the right to do those things,” Roethlisberger said, via TribLive. “I don’t feel like I abuse that situation. So I don’t think it’s an issue, but you would have to ask them.”

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Frank Schwabis a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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