Hines Ward: Big Ben 'needs to do more as a leader'

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  • By Grant Gordon NFL.com
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Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

As the Steelers' soap opera-esque tribulations play on through the offseason just as they did throughout the entirety of the 2018 season, former Steelers receiver Hines Ward was the latest to weigh in on the "disappointing" drama Friday on "NFL Total Access."

Subscribing to Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert's recent statement that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the team's unquestionable leader, Ward added that the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback nonetheless needed to improve upon his leadership skills.

"Disappointing just to hear all the talks off the field with the Pittsburgh Steelers, that's really never been the case," Ward said in reference to running back Le'Veon Bell holding out for the entire season and emerging as a free agent and receiver Antonio Brown missing the team's final game and now likely to be traded. "It's unfortunate. Two great talents like Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown aren't going to be on the team going into next season. But yes, Ben is the leader of that team. He's been there, he's done that. I just think he has to take the initiative to kinda do more as a leader. Not just being able to call guys out on his radio show. Take them behind -- treat them like, you know we always say we're a band of brothers -- like, pull me to the side, let me know what I can do to get better. You don't have to air it out to the public where everyone can hear. So I just think he needs to do a better job of that."

While Brown and Bell have dominated headlines, Roethlisberger has come under fire from some for his role in Brown wanting to leave Pittsburgh and for how he handles leading the team.

Ward certainly isn't the first former Pittsburgh favorite to bemoan his disappointment in regards to the current situation, as Jerome Bettis did just the same. And Ward isn't the first former Steelers receiver to question Roethlisberger's leadership and, in particular, how he goes about calling out teammates. Current Broncos wideout Emmanuel Sanders did so, as well.

Ward -- who played all 14 of his NFL seasons with the Steelers, drawing acclaim as a fearsome downfield blocker who tallied four Pro Bowl selections and six 1,000-yard receiving seasons -- was a teammate of Roethlisberger's for eight years and Brown's for two.

Currently, Ward bides his time as the director of player development for the Alliance of American Football. Still, after a decorated career that included two Super Bowl titles, he hopes above all else that the Steelers can simply get back to being the black and yellow of old.

"For the Steelers, just get back to playing football," he said. "That's always been our motto; just lining up and kicking tail and that's what I think, for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they gotta get back to just doing that."

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