When Ben Roethlisberger returned to the Pittsburgh Steelers following an offseason in which his off-the-field behavior drove headlines, he spoke more of self-improvement and the forgiveness of his teammates than football. He had changes to make and an image to repair that went well beyond football, and was met with the expected skepticism.
In fact, outspoken teammate Hines Ward was one of his critics.
But time, and success, seem to have healed the relationships that may have been fractured between Roethlisberger and his teammates. During a sitdown with NFL Network’s Deion Sanders (part of which you can view above) Ward explained that he now has a big brother-little brother relationship with his quarterback, who he says has truly become a team leader.
Ward described Roethlisberger as “just a better person” since his return to the team following a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
“Just doing the little things, you know,” Ward said. “Not just hanging out with certain players on a team. I mean, the captain, quarterback. You sit with the scout team guys. I mean, you … can’t be cliquish.
“Before, back then, he was very probably cliquish, only hung out with certain guys and a lot of guys probably took that and kind of rubbed them the wrong way a little bit. But now, I mean, he’s playing basketball with offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers, anybody. He’s starting to have fun.”
Ward hits on a number of topics during the interview with Sanders, discussing the mindset of the Steelers, the physical nature of the NFL and his own legacy. Catch the full interview during “Thursday Night Kickoff” on NFL Network at 6 p.m. ET.
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