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Former Steeler Jerome Bettis: Emmanuel Sanders’ Comments Were ‘Disrespectful’


Yesterday, Pro Football Talk seized upon a sound bite from former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders during his appearance on a Denver radio show late last week, during which he said that his new quarterback with the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning, was “a far better leader” than Ben Roethlisberger.

The clip has been given a life of its own since PFT exposed it to a broader audience, which elicited a response from Sanders yesterday via Twitter:

But Sanders wasn’t the only former teammate of Roethlisberger’s to comment, as former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis also took to the air waves to discuss Sanders’ remarks:

He’s kind of going back and contradicting some of it while he’s actually saying it. What I read into that is a new system. I think he’s misconstruing the leadership for a different type of practice habits, or a different type of situation where he’s staying after and working with him.

But he has to understand, he’s a new receiver in a new system, so the quarterback is going to stay after with you. He’s going to give you more attention than some of the other receivers because this is your first opportunity. He doesn’t know you. He’s trying to become acclimated to you. What you like to do, where you like to catch the ball, all those things matter for Peyton Manning.

As I pointed out yesterday, Roethlisberger has been giving similar attention to his own new veteran receiver that his team brought in. Lance Moore is going to be taking on a big role in the Steelers’ offense this year as the slot receiver, so Roethlisberger has been working with him on overdrive to make sure that the two are on the same page.

But Bettis continued, and implied that Sanders’ reaction was partly a result of a bit of idolization on the young receiver’s part in working with a quarterback such as Manning. Beyond that, Bettis considered his comments “disrespectful” and “immature”:

I think he’s looking at it with rose colored lenses because he’s there, and he’s enamored by Peyton Manning and all that he’s been able to accomplish. So I think a little bit of that is him being wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, and really being a little disrespectful, I believe, to Ben Roethlisberger.

This is a guy who really developed you and got you to this point. He had his best season ever last year and I think he kind of overstepped, I thought, the boundaries in terms of leaving a former teammate and going to a new guy. He didn’t have to say it, he said it, and I think that was a little immature.

Even as a second-year player, Roethlisberger showed early signs of leadership when he helped rally the team around the retiring Bettis and urging the team on to the Super Bowl to allow the future Hall of Fame running back to retire as a champion. And were it not for a potentially game-saving tackle from Roethlisberger after a Bettis fumble at the goal line in the playoffs, that likely would never have been able to happen, so perhaps the former running back is looking at it through tinted frames as well.

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About Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • treeher

    Matthew, what’s the point in questioning Bettis at the end of the article? You should just delete “so perhaps…” and leave it at that.

  • steeltown

    Sanders who?…… much ado about nothing

  • T R

    yeah Treeher, i agree article was good till that last statement. whats tinted about Bettis view of Sanders comments.

  • steeltown

    I think he meant that Bettis, like Sanders, is just playing favorites or being biased

  • greeny

    Little bit snarky

  • Brendon Glad

    No one has ever called Ben an uber-hard worker, compared to some of the elite-elite QBs. But I like my QB’s to come through in the biggest moments, and Ben does that better than Peyton. The playoff winning % and notable game-saving plays in the playoffs all point to Ben as better during those times. Often on plays that are impossible to practice. So leading comes in different forms. I’m happy with ours, thank u very much. And Sanders will need to get open in quicker than 5 seconds if he want the ball thrown to him. Santonio Holmes and Wallace found that out. No Ben around to bail him out when he gets smothered at the line or the o-line gets burned.

  • Paddy

    The QB is always a the leader, when they win and Ben wins a lot. Perhaps Sanders should play a season before he spouts off. I know one thing, that Manning won’t tolerate his ball dropping capabilities. In fact Sanders hasn’t EARNED the right to comment on anyone’s leadership skills

  • michael young

    It’s got to be hard catching passes from Manning while he’s swinging from his nuts. Sheesh! Get a room already, Manny.

  • whisn

    ….Sanders tried to catch the ball with his eyes shut, that tells you all about him you need to know. He is soft, and up his own,…..best thing we ever did is get rid!

  • Jacque Strappe

    I remember Barry Sanders. Deion Sanders. That’s about it.

    Oh, heck, Colonel Sanders. Nearly left him out.

  • Virdin Barzey

    So funny how you can tell the difference between a class act and class clown. When they interviewed Jericho and Lance Mooore, they gave nothing but respect to their former QBs and did not get into comparisons. Those are class act.

    Then you have Holmes and Sanders who throw Ben under the bus though they had great success with him. Now dopey Holmes want to come back to play with Ben. Not gonna happen. Lets see how much of a leader Peyton is to you when you drop a game winning/tying score.

    They need to make sure the door is close to these losers once they leave.

  • 2443scott

    everyone who comes to steelers gush over the team and the brass how diff it is then any other team …then when certain guys leave they find they have to be little others for there failings … i will say it again sanders never was a elite wr he was pretty much average and he will be in denver as well…. till he can if he can get better he hasnt the insight who is better…. so hes catching a new qb and staying later big deal wr`s all around league do that with diff teams and qb …..maybe he should skip talking and use that time to study his new playbook

  • SumnerYoung

    There are a lot of huge egos in pro sports, but the worst ones are the ones who can’t keep their mouths shut, the ones who openly criticize teammates while still on the team (Ryan Clark) and the ones who criticize former teammates soon after they leave (Sanders). I know that Clark and Woodley were very good players in their primes, Sanders hasn’t proven anything yet except that he is mediocre and injury prone. I for one am glad the Steelers have moved on from Woodley, Clark and Sanders.

  • http://suspect5.bandcamp.com/ HardPunkKore

    i wouldn’t say Sanders is injury prone…

  • Skinny Merlino

    Who cares what sanders says when Peyton collapses during the s if they make it sanders can give him a shoulder to cry on sanders who? That injured guy?

  • DB84

    I think it is just messed up for Sanders to rip Ben when Ben went to bat and got the Steelers to match the Patriots offer last year.

  • Bvrsty

    Much ado about nothing. He’s gone. He’s trying to fit in, in a new city, new team, new QB. Would have been better if he was more respectful of Ben. Oh well.

    Also would have been better if he’d caught that intercepted ball, or at least tackled the guy instead of jumping up and down with his hands on his helmet.

    Or caught that 2 point conversion against Baltimore.

    Or… left Pittsburgh, so we don’t have to worry about future drops. Wait!!! :-)

  • Steelers12328882

    You go, Bettis!

  • Lewis

    We all know who Peyton is, and what he does for an offense. IMO he puts most other QBs to shame in that regard. But Bettis is right, there’s no reason to call Ben out on it, especially when he’s a huge reason as to why Sanders is a somewhat coveted WR.

  • george

    Agree

  • cencalsteeler

    When the dust settles, this will end up being a good thing. Sometimes a negative comment is like taking a whiff of smelling salt. It wakes you up and you strive to improve your game that much more.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/JohnnyLoose Johnny Loose

    Lot of good points made here in the comments but this one is the best. I hadn’t thought about that. Ben did lobby to bring Sanders back for another season. I’m excited to be moving on to a new crop of receivers. I fully believe Sanders played close to his ceiling. Even if he had caught some of those passes, I sort of gave up on him being a special player. The guys we have on the roster now all have potential to do something special. I like the variety of receiver types we have now. Very happy that Pittsburgh now has a group of taller receivers instead of an aging Plax and Derek Moye while Justin Brown sat on the practice squad. J. Brown has sounded promising from what I’ve heard and so has Wheaton. I don’t think there is a huge rush to throw Bryant into the fire. Just integrate him slowly into the offense and play him to his strengths. You can build the rest of his game over time and through experience. What if they ended up keeping A. Brown, Wheaton, Moore, J. Brown and Moye? I don’t think Bryant should end up on the roster over a more polished receiver in Moye. Unless of course, Bryant proves throughout training camp and regular season that he can overtake Moye.

  • Chazsteelerfan

    He left the steelers, he can say whatever he wants it does not matter at all. Talk is cheap.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/JohnnyLoose Johnny Loose

    I’m excited to be moving on with a new crop of receivers. I fully believe Sanders played close to his ceiling. Even if he had caught some of those passes, I never really thought he was going to be a special player. Then again I was wrong about Antonio Brown. I still held Brown in higher regard than Sanders though, regardless of the fact he was picked 3 rounds later in the same draft. The guys we have on the roster now all have potential to do something special. I like the variety of receiver types we have now. Very happy that Pittsburgh has mixed in a group of younger/taller receivers instead of an aging Plax and and undeveloped Derek Moye with Justin Brown putting in work on the practice squad. J. Brown has sounded promising from what I’ve heard and so has Wheaton. I don’t think there is a huge rush to throw Bryant into the fire. Just integrate him slowly into the offense and play him to his strengths. You can build the rest of his game over time and through experience. What if they ended up keeping A. Brown, Wheaton, Moore, J. Brown and Moye? I don’t think Bryant not making the 53 man roster should be a disappointment at all. I mean, look at Justin Brown’s situation. Grabbed in the sixth round last year, didn’t show too much in the preseason/camp. Spent the year on the practice squad, had a full offseason to hone his skills, and now it looks as if he might be a contributor on offense this year. It might be good for Bryant to take his turn on the practice squad. This way we can get one last look at Moye. I know fans are familiar with his mistakes, but don’t forget that he has potential and he is going into that 3rd year where WRs supposedly hit the ground running and come out full bloom.

  • lm303

    Did Sanders say Manning was a better quarterback? No. He said he thought he was a better leader. Can the man not have an opinion? Maybe the leadership of Manning fits better with him. Are you telling me that none of you has had a manager they didn’t like as much as another?

    Good lord, look at all of you getting incensed about the opinion of someone who you clearly think “has reached his ceiling”. It looks petty. If you hold someone in such low regard, why care about their opinion?

  • Tom Savastano

    Just another reason to not miss him on the team..as if the key drops were not enough..

  • James

    Ben – 2 Lombardis > Manning – 1 Lombardi…….that’s the definition of leadership, and Ben has twice as many.

  • steeltown

    Zing!

  • Yiz

    I guess you forgot his first two years on the team.

  • http://suspect5.bandcamp.com/ HardPunkKore

    I guess you forgot his last 2 years where he missed 0 games.

  • IckyD

    The 2d of which Ben shoulda been MVP instead Holmes….by far.

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