James Harrison spent nearly 13 seasons in Pittsburgh alongside Roethlisberger, watching the future Hall of Famer develop throughout his career. While he respects Big Ben's authority in the locker room, the former Steelers linebacker told "NFL Total Access" that he doesn't feel the rest of the roster will feel about Roethlisberger exactly the same way.
"For me, Ben being the unquestioned leader, I have no problem with that situation other than the fact that no one is beyond unquestioned," Harrison told NFL Network's Willie McGinest on Thursday evening. "That's a big statement. If I'm in that locker room, I just got put under '52 kids.' I'm feeling some sort of way. Even if I didn't feel that type of way before, like even if there wasn't a rift on the radar. Now I'm like 'Is that how they really view me up top?'
"And I think this is what Antonio [Brown] may have said where he said he felt like Ben had an owner's mentality. And you have the GM that's saying this and that's how guys may feel, even though that may not be the case. As far as when I was there that's not how I felt. I communicated with Ben just like I did any other player. We agree or disagree and so on and so forth."
In case you've been living under a boulder, Brown, in seeking a way out of Pittsburgh, said among others things during a Twitter Q&A this weekend that Roethlisberger "has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches." Brown added the two still have mutual respect for one another. The receiver met with Steelers president Art Rooney II this week and Brown said the two sides agreed to part ways, though Pittsburgh is still in charge of executing a trade.
Harrison suggested that the ongoing, never-ending drama surrounding Roethlisberger, Brown and Le'Veon Bell could have been avoided if for some leadership from the head coach.
"I start off at this same thing with [Mike] Tomlin. The head guy has to be the one that takes charge," Harrison explained. "I believe it's fault on, even with my situation, it's fault on me. It's fault on Tomlin. It's fault on the team. It's got to this point because Tomlin has allowed a certain amount of things to go on and rather players take advantage of that or step beyond that, it's got to a point where it's so far out that now he can't reign it back in so to speak. And with that being the case it's Tomlin. It could be some blame on A.B. It could be some blame on Ben. It can go around."
Harrison also had a falling-out with Tomlin after he asked to be released multiple times during the 2017 season but was not granted his request until late in the season.
When it comes to repairing the damage already done in the Steelers locker room though, Harrison had no quick fixes.
"Nothing is going to be accomplished in one day," Harrison concluded. "It's a day-by-day thing. It's going to all start when they get back together in OTAs, training, workouts, all that and go from there. As far as what's going to happen with Antonio, that's something else. Like I said they're going to have to deal with that as it comes and what they feel is acceptable for trading anything and what isn't."