Ben Roethlisberger trying to help Steelers block out the noise -- and music

Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Football

PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger knows the Steelers offense has to face the music about how poorly it has performed the past three games, save for one fourth-quarter flurry in Los Angeles.

But that doesn't mean he wants to hear music, as receiver Chase Claypool has suggested for practice, not after he and other former veterans have tried to carry on what has been a long-held Steelers tradition of no music in the locker room. It was a ban first enforced by Joe Greene and maintained through five decades.

Roethlisberger, though, also understands it gets harder each year to preserve that tradition. And there is a good reason why.

"It was about Mr. Rooney," Roethlisberger said, referring to the late owner and chairman, Dan Rooney. "I had conversations with guys like Cam Heyward and Vince Williams and told them the reason we don't do it is because if Mr. Rooney came in that locker room, you wanted to listen to him, you wanted to hear things he had to say, whether about the Steelers, about life, whatever. As new guys came in and Mr. Rooney wasn't around, they don't understand that quite as much. So we tried to pass that on."

Roethlisberger said Rooney meant a lot to him because "knowing what he did to get me here." The reference was to Rooney strongly suggesting to coach Bill Cowher and general manager Kevin Colbert on draft day in 2004 that he might want to consider taking the quarterback from Miami of Ohio with the 11th overall pick rather than Arkansas guard Shawn Andrews, who was high on the Steelers' radar.


So it has been left to the 18-year veteran and Heyward — the two longest tenured players — to keep the tradition alive. Which is why Heyward publicly pronounced the other day there will be no music at practice in response to Claypool's suggestion.

"You worry about it because there can't be a handful of guys in that locker room who remember who Dan Rooney is," Roethlisberger said. "I told the guys the story why I don't want to hear music, but you can only tell them the stories so much where they're kind of like, 'OK, it's someone just talking.' You can pass on tradition all you want, but the further you get away from something, the harder it is to do.

"I'm sure there's probably some veteran guys I played with who watch us and hear people talk about some of the things that happen and probably shake their heads and say, 'That's not the Steelers way, that's not the way we used to do it.' I'm sure the 70s team probably looked at us even 10-20 years ago [and thought the same thing]. It just happens."

And that's exactly what has happened this week when former players Rocky Bleier and Ryan Clark publicly decried the performance and attitude of the team after what they witnessed in the 41-10 defeat in Cincinnati.

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