Hines Ward again slams Steelers, questions Ben Roethlisberger's leadership skills

The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to have fallen apart internally this season — for a number of reasons.

First, star running back Le’Veon Bell sat out the entirety of the season in order to protect his health over a contract dispute. Then, wide receiver Antonio Brown missed the final game of the year, and then started publicly feuding with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. 

Roethlesberger clapped back multiple times, too, both in public and reportedly in the locker room and in meetings. General manager Kevin Colbert backed Roethlesberger, too, saying earlier this week that he is unquestionably the leader of this team.”

While there are multiple factors that played into the Steelers’ issues, former Pittsburgh star Hines Ward said one of the biggest issues has to do with Roethlisberger’s leadership skills.

“It’s disappointing just to hear all the talks off the field with the Pittsburgh Steelers, that’s really never been the case,” Ward told the NFL Network. “It’s unfortunate. Two great talents like Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown aren’t going to be on the team going into next season. But yes, Ben is the leader of that 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. So I just think he needs to do a better job of that.”

Related: JuJu Smith-Schuster with the Pittsburgh Steelers

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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, left, makes a catch in drills during NFL football minicamp, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
In this photo from July 28, 2017, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Justin Hunter (11) walks beside quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during practice at NFL football training camp in Latrobe, Pa. The Steelers won't lack for options at wide receiver heading into 2017. From rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster to mercurial Martavis Bryant to erratic Sammie Coats to veteran Justin Hunter, the picture behind Antonio Brown is crowded and cloudy. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster warms up before an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) celebrates with Antonio Brown (84) after scoring during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) crosses the goal line for a touchdown after taking a pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) carries the ball into the end zone for a touchdown as Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (57) watches during the first half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) celebrates with JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) afters scoring during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) celebrates his touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2017, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) smiles on he sideline during an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cincinnati Bengals cornerback George Iloka have been suspended one game each by the NFL for violating league safety rules. Smith-Schuster was flagged for unnecessary roughness and taunting after a blindside hit on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict in the fourth quarter of Pittsburgh's 23-20 victory Monday night, Dec. 5. Iloka was penalized for unnecessary roughness for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) runs on a 69-yard pass play during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) celebrates with JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) after scoring a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) sits after scoring a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) visits with fans on the sidelines during warmups before an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) returns a kickoff 96-yards for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
This is a 2018 photo of JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL football team. This image reflects the Pittsburgh Steelers active roster as of Thursday, June 7, 2018 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is greeted by young fans as he takes to the practice field during NFL football training camp in Latrobe, Pa., Thursday, July 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster catches a pass for a first down during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) tries to fend off Carolina Panthers free safety Mike Adams (29) during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) can't make the catch against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) celebrates with fans after scoring a touchdown on a pass reception in the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
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Ward played all 14 of his season in the NFL with the Steelers, and recorded more than 12,000 yards and 85 touchdowns before he retired in 2014. Half of his time in the league was with Roethlisberger as his quarterback, too.

If anybody knows what it’s like to play alongside Big Ben, it’s Ward.

Ward has been openly critical of the leadership with the franchise in general, too, and singled out Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin to Yahoo Sports after the team failed to make the playoffs this season.

“To me it all starts with the head coach Mike Tomlin,” Ward told Yahoo Sports before the Super Bowl. “When you give some leniency with players based on whatever, you’re only fining them — a player can only do what you allow them to do.”

Based on Wards’ previous comments, what he told the NFL Network on Friday is nothing new. But clearly, nothing has changed in Pittsburgh — and it’s irked one of the most popular players in franchise history enough that he’s still speaking out about how bad it is.

He did have some advice for the team going forward, though.

Just stick to the basics.

“For the Steelers, just get back to playing football,” Ward told the NFL Network. “That’s always been our motto; just lining up and kicking tail and that’s what I think, for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they gotta get back to just doing that.”




 

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