PITTSBURGH – Ben Roethlisberger was never an ogre with local media, but he felt he could’ve been better and made a conscious decision to do so last April.
“I decided to be more cooperative with people and be a better person,” Roethlisberger told reporters Wednesday. “It’s a change I wanted to make in my life and it’s toward you guys as well.”
The change was recognized by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America yesterday, when it honored Roethlisberger with the Chief Award, given annually to the member of the Steelers organization who best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the media as established by team founder Art Rooney.
In presenting the award to Roethlisberger, chapter president Ed Bouchette said: “Ben was an overwhelming winner. We see him every day. We can look through the bull----, and I don’t think there was any b.s. about that this year. He was real, he was available, and he was interesting.”
Roethlisberger becomes the first quarterback ever to win the award, which was established in 1988. That in itself says something about the difficulty a team’s on-field leader has while cooperating with a large group of reporters on a regular basis.
“I did apologize for not being the most cooperative in the world,” Roethlisberger said of an April chat with Bouchette. “Anyway, I think this is an awesome award. I appreciate it very much. Anything named after the Chief or the Rooney family is an honor. You guys know me and know when I win an award I try to direct a lot of the attention to my teammates. I’m not sure I can direct this one to my teammates, but I would if I could. But thank you very much. This is an awesome honor.”
Earlier in the day, Roethlisberger met with a large group of reporters and was asked about the recent accomplishments of rookie center Maurkice Pouncey.
“I don’t want to talk about him,” Roethlisberger said. “He’s right next to me and I don’t want to get his head any bigger than it already is.”
Of course, Roethlisberger answered the next two questions with high praise for Pouncey, but joked again when asked if he’d like another Pouncey – as in Maurkice’s identical twin brother Mike, a guard who’ll enter the next draft.
“I don’t think I could take two of him,” Roethlisberger said.
Sitting out of Wednesday’s practice were LB James Harrison (illness), RB Mewelde Moore (knee), S Troy Polamalu (ankle), DE Aaron Smith (triceps) and LB Jason Worilds (knee). LB LaMarr Woodley (knee) worked on a limited basis.
About Smith, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was optimistic during his conference call with Cleveland reporters: “He had a big workout this morning. … We’ve been pretty enthused and encouraged by his development.”
When asked about his arm, Smith only said, “There’s nothing new. I’ll let you know when there is.”
Browns who missed Wednesday’s practice were RB Peyton Hillis (chest), DT Shaun Rogers (ankle, hip), RB Lawrence Vickers (illness) and G Floyd Womack (knee).
A third-quarter sack Thursday night that was originally credited to James Harrison has now been split between Harrison and Woodley. Harrison now has 10½ sacks this season and Woodley has 9.
Also, the fourth-quarter fumble and carry originally credited to Isaac Redman is now being credited to Roethlisberger.