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Big Ben: I've 'earned the right' to criticize teammates

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn't hold back on criticizing teammates and even play-calling following Week 12's loss to the Denver Broncos.

During his weekly Tuesday radio show on 93.7 The Fan, Roethlisberger took issue with Antonio Brown's route running on a late-game interception, rookie James Washington dropping a pass and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner not calling JuJu Smith-Schuster's number enough on the final drive.

While some could raise their eyebrows over a player publicly airing opinions, the Steelers' signal-caller believes his status on the team affords him the leverage to do it.

"I think I have earned the right to be able to do that with as long as I have been here," Roethlisberger said Wednesday, via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "and I'll just be just as critical of myself [in the media], as well."

Roethlisberger voicing a strong opinion isn't new, of course, as he hasn't shied away from calling out teammates or confronting them on the sidelines throughout his 15 seasons.

And with two Super Bowl rings and six Pro Bowl appearances in his accomplished career, the quarterback certainly has the hardware to support his standing on the roster.

"Being around for a long time with a lot of different players," Roethlisberger said. "You have to know how to motivate different guys in different ways. I think that's part of being a leader, being a captain, just understanding players. Sometimes you just grab them off to the side, and sometimes you have to be honest with them."

While he is correct in stating a leader should speak out or confront others when something is wrong, the bigger issue surrounds doing it publicly, especially when considering one of the targets of Roethlisberger's critiques fell on a four-time All-Pro wide receiver.

There's a long-standing unwritten code among players that what happens within a team should stay among those in the locker room. For a player, regardless of status, to do otherwise could cause friction and disrupt team chemistry, both of which would not be ideal for a team making a push for the postseason.

So, how does Roethlisberger think those he openly critiques -- whether it is on his radio show or through other media outlets -- will react?

"Go ask them," Roethlisberger said. "I have no idea. I would hope that they would understand that as the quarterback and the captain that I have the right to do those things. I don't feel like I abuse that situation. So I don't think it's an issue, but you would have to ask them."

Needless to say, it is reasonable to believe the question will come up in the coming days in the Steelers' locker room.

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