The newest New York Jet is taking shots at the oldest Pittsburgh Steeler.
Le’Veon Bell signed with the Jets last week, and this week he’s burning any remaining bridges he still had in Pittsburgh by calling out former teammate Ben Roethlisberger.
“The organization wants to win. (Coach Mike) Tomlin wants to win. Ben wants to win — but Ben wants to win his way, and that’s tough to play with,” the running back said. “Ben won a Super Bowl, but he won when he was younger. Now he’s at this stage where he tries to control everything, and (the team) let him get there.
“So if I’m mad at a player and I’m not throwing him the ball — if I’m not throwing (Antonio Brown) the ball and I’m giving JuJu (Smith-Schuster) all the shine or Jesse (James) or Vance (McDonald) or whoever it is, and you know consciously you’re making your other receiver mad but you don’t care — it’s hard to win that way.”
Bell’s comments align with those of Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, who all but admitted that Roethlisberger is held to a different standard than the other 52 guys on the roster.
“Ben is the unquestioned leader of this group,” Colbert said. “He’s the elder statesmen and the (only) Super Bowl winner (remaining on the roster). If our players were smart, they’d listen to him because he’s been there, he’s done it. He can tell them, ‘No, guys, what you’re doing is or is not good enough.’
“And I honestly believe that can be a burden on him more often than he may like to admit, because he has to … he’s got 52 kids under him, quite honestly. I want them to step up and say, ‘Hey, Ben, what do I have to do? Can I do this better? What do we have to do to win a Super Bowl?’
“I think that once you win it, you’ve got 53 guys who can say what it took, but right now, he’s the only one, so I have no problem with him. He can call me out, and that’s fine.”
Bell said Roethlisberger wasn’t the only factor in him leaving the Steelers, but he was a factor. The running back said other players got the feeling that Roethlisberger was on a different level than they were.
While the starting quarterback might, in fact, be a level above the other players, other Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, such as New England’s Tom Brady and New Orleans’ Drew Brees, don’t carry themselves in that manner.
“Quarterbacks are leaders; it is what it is,” Bell said. But “you’re still a teammate at the end of the day. You’re not Kevin Colbert. You’re not (team president Art) Rooney.”
Outside of speaking about his former quarterback, the three-time Pro Bowler also told Sports Illustrated he originally didn’t plan on sitting out the 2018 season.
Bell said he was going to skip just Week 1 to send a message. He then moved his return to Week 7, which was after the Steelers’ bye.
The running back then pushed back his return again and targeted after the trade deadline, which was in Week 9.
Obviously, none of those planned returns came to fruition, and Bell said his teammates’ comments about him played a factor in him not returning at all.
“I felt like: For me to get my full potential and be the player I know I can be, I gotta go play with different players,” Bell said. “I gotta go play with people who want to see me succeed, who want me to be great. Getting a fresh start, (that’s) the best thing for me.”
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