When it comes to sports, fans have a tendency to get hyper-focused on the players, their stats, and their performances. But often, what happens behind the scenes can be just as interesting, if not more so. Recently, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made headlines when he admitted that he didn’t initially want fellow quarterback Tyler Pickett to succeed. This confession is a prime example of the complexities and nuances that make up the world of sports.
Roethlisberger’s comments came during a press conference in which he was asked about Pickett, the team’s fourth-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft. “I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t want him to do well at first,” Roethlisberger said. “And it wasn’t anything against him personally. It was just, you know, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be here and I want to play right now.”
It’s not hard to imagine why Roethlisberger would feel this way. At 39 years old, he’s nearing the end of his career and is likely eager to make the most of the time he has left as a starting quarterback. Pickett, on the other hand, is a young, unproven player who is likely seen as a “project” by the Steelers coaching staff. If Pickett were to outshine Roethlisberger in practice or preseason games, it’s conceivable that the team could start to think about grooming him as Roethlisberger’s eventual replacement.
But Roethlisberger’s honesty about his initial feelings towards Pickett is still somewhat surprising. After all, it’s not often that a veteran player will openly admit that they feel threatened by a younger teammate. It’s a reminder that even at the highest levels of professional sports, there are still rivalries, tensions, and insecurities among players.
Of course, it’s also worth noting that Roethlisberger’s comments about Pickett weren’t all negative. In fact, he went on to praise Pickett’s work ethic and attitude, saying that “it’s hard not to like the kid.” This is another reminder that even when there are tensions between players, there is still a level of mutual respect and admiration that exists.
Roethlisberger’s comments also highlight the pressures that come with being a professional athlete. For all the fame, fortune, and glory that come with success, there is also a constant need to prove oneself and to stay at the top of one’s game. And as players get older, that pressure only increases.
It’s hard to say what the future holds for Roethlisberger and Pickett. The Steelers have made it clear that they plan on giving Pickett plenty of opportunities to prove himself, but Roethlisberger is still the team’s starting quarterback, at least for now. But regardless of what happens on the field, Roethlisberger’s candid comments about his feelings towards Pickett are a reminder that behind every matchup, every touchdown, and every win or loss, there are human beings with complex motivations, emotions, and relationships.