As a 14-year veteran and nine-time team captain, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said it was his responsibility to speak up about wide receiver Antonio Brown's sideline antics Sunday.
Roethlisberger doesn't regret calling the Gatorade cooler-flipping incident a “distraction” and saying he was “disappointed” in Brown's behavior.
“I like to think as a leader of this team, it's kind of my job,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday “You have to be able to talk to people and communicate in different ways.”
In this instance, Roethlisberger openly discussed Brown's sideline meltdown Tuesday on his weekly 93.7 FM radio segment.
Roethlisberger didn't say Wednesday whether he has talked one-on-one to Brown, but he's confident the public message that he and coach Mike Tomlin delivered on Tuesday was received.
“I”m sure,” he said. “He's professional. He's probably the best wide receiver in the game.”
Brown posted the following Tuesday afternoon on his Twitter account: “Apologize for all the noise and the distractions Steeler nation let's stay focus #Pushfor7”
Brown was upset when he wasn't targeted on a third-and-4 play in the second quarter Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens with the Steelers holding a 3-0 lead. Brown broke free of his coverage and was open in the left flat. Roethlisberger, though, threw incomplete on a short pass to running back Le'Veon Bell.
Roethlisberger was asked whether it's difficult to keep Brown, Bell and No. 2 receiver Martavis Bryant happy while simultaneously trying to win games.
“As a captain and quarterback, you have the ball in your hand every play, so you have to take all of those things into account,” Roethlisberger said. “But you have to be careful not to, because we've got so many weapons, try to make everyone happy. You have to be able to go out and win football games. That is our first priority.”
Bryant said he would never display such open frustration, but understood Brown's frustration.
“It's probably been building up for weeks,” he said. “Some guys have that. … We always have his back no matter how he reacts or what he does. I told him to stay focused and stay with it.”
As far as Roethlisberger is concerned, the matter is closed.
“We're over it now,” he said. “We've moved on to Jacksonville. Wednesday is (the start of) Jacksonville week. … We don't have time to think about anything else right now.”
Bryant was asked whether the incident will be a lingering issue to the Steelers.
“Only if you let it be a distraction to you,” he said. “Every player has emotions and each player shows his emotions differently. It just came out. … We've moved on from it, so it's all behind us.”