Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger opened up about his relationship with Antonio Brown, admitting he regrets criticizing his former teammate because it “ruined a friendship.”
The two had a falling out during the 2018 season when Roethlisberger publicly criticized Brown in late November for how he ran routes after a loss to the Broncos.
“I wish I wouldn’t have done it,” Roethlisberger told NBC. “We saw what happened, and it ruined a friendship. … Just got caught up in the emotion, the heat of the battle.”
Roethlisberger also criticized then-rookie receiver James Washington after the same game, but Roethlisberger explained Washington had an opposite reaction.
“James Washington texted me, called me and talked to me in person, thanking for me that,” he said. “So [while] the outside world was killing me for it, he thanked me and that’s all that matters.”
When asked why Washington could handle the criticism, but Brown couldn’t, Roethlisberger said: “You’ll have to ask him. I’m not sure.”
Brown eventually was traded to the Raiders. Despite the fractured relationship, Roethlisberger said he hopes his former teammate “has a good, healthy season.”
The drama, however, has continued in Oakland as Brown opened training camp on the non-football injury list with a “minor injury,” and it was later reported that he got frostbite on his feet from a cryotherapy machine after using it “without the proper footwear.”
While most of the coverage of his absence was focused on the foot issue, it was later reported that he was sitting out training camp over a helmet grievance with the NFL. He also reportedly threatened to quit because he wouldn’t be allowed to wear his old helmet under NFL rules.
He filed a second grievance with the league, asking to use the old helmet for a year as an in-between period while he searched for a new helmet. That request was denied, as well.
Brown has since returned to Raiders’ training camp, and Raiders coach Jon Gruden has said Brown is “all in.”