PITTSBURGH — The Steelers are tired of the bashing.
Veteran guard Ramon Foster has issued what he called a “PSA” on social media, urging ex-Steelers to stop criticizing current players. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster are among the targets of criticism in the aftermath of the Antonio Brown trade.
“Moving forward…any former player or affiliate of the Steelers who has an issue with anyone still in the locker room, please contact me or Maurkice Pouncey or anyone else you feel you can talk to,” Foster wrote. “Whoever you have an issue with, we will get you their number so you can address them. I PROMISE. These media takes might give y’all good traffic on your social media outlets but the guys still in that locker room, who y’all still know personally have to answer for those comments. Call them what you want, but call them personally and tell THEM. Defend who you want to defend but you don’t have to mention the team at all.
“Whether you have a ring or played for one year…ENOUGH…CHILL. Most players at one point in their life want to take their kids back to the place where they once played, don’t burn too many bridges. It’s a long history of brotherhood more than anything, BUSINESS is one thing but let’s keep it at a minimum for the guys who have to answer for these comments moving forward.”
The latest firestorm came from former Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, who labeled Roethlisberger a “racist” in a tweet before clarifying hours later that he was trying to make an exaggerated point.
Even so, several ex-teammates have criticized Roethlisberger’s leadership, most notably his critiques of the team on his radio show. Before the Steelers traded Brown to Oakland in March, the All-Pro receiver tweeted that his quarterback had an “owner mentality” as if he’s bigger than the locker room.
Roethlisberger remained silent throughout the offseason, and the Steelers have been negotiating a new contract for the quarterback.
On Sunday, Brown and Smith-Schuster traded barbs after Brown pointed out Smith-Schuster’s fumbling problems in response to a fan highlighting Smith-Schuster’s team MVP award to Brown.
Foster and Pouncey are using their status on the team — with a combined 239 starts along the Steelers’ offensive line — to try to bring normalcy back to the locker room. Team leaders have stayed in touch to discuss best practices on a distraction-free 2019. Steelers players wanted that for last season, too, but Le’Veon Bell‘s holdout on the franchise tag and Brown’s issues with the team in Week 17 derailed that plan.
“We’re already motivated. Not many are believing in us right now,” said linebacker Anthony Chickillo about the team’s mentality this offseason.