By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The week has barely started and Ben Roethlisberger is already setting the stage for a Thursday night disappointment. Steelers fans can’t possibly be excited about the quarterback’s critical comments about Thursday Night Football, which make him sound like a player who won’t be ready to go on Thursday against the Titans.
Speaking in his weekly radio appearance on Monday, Roethlisberger took the opportunity to rip the league’s weekly Thursday night games for the same reasons that many others have spoken out about them in the past. The QB is less than thrilled about the idea of players having to turn around and play a game just four days after a grueling Sunday, which has led to an increase in injuries and teams that mostly look unprepared and sloppy compared to how they would perform on Sundays.
Here’s the full comment from Roethlisberger, via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Twitter:
“Yeah, it’s miserable. It’s terrible. They need to get rid of this game, I think. Just play Mondays and Sundays. It’s so tough on guys. You’re beat up, you’re banged up, it’s a very violent, physical game we play. Both teams are going through it, so I’m not just speaking on ours. I’m sure the Titans would say the same thing and everyone who’s played on Thursday night would say the same thing. You’ve got to let your body recover a little bit. Even a week, you’re still not fully recovered Sunday to Sunday. You still are dealing with bumps and bruises and things continue to build up throughout the season. When you go on such a short week, man it’s not good. I don’t know many players that like it. It’s a tough thing to do. But we’ve got to do what the league says.”
The entire premise of TNF could have been summed up with Roethlisberger’s last comment: at the end of the day, the players need to do what the league says. As understandable as his points are, the league probably isn’t going to just get rid of Thursday night games any time soon. As bad of an idea as it is to make teams play two games in a five-day span, Roethlisberger’s diatribe isn’t suddenly going to excuse him from taking the field on Thursday.
The game between the Steelers and Titans will have huge implications for the Patriots, who remain deadlocked with Pittsburgh for the AFC’s top seed at 7-2. The Steelers currently hold the tiebreaker for having the better record against the conference (5-1 vs. 4-1). So if the Steelers lose on Thursday and the Patriots take care of business against the Raiders in Mexico City on Sunday, New England would pass Pittsburgh in both overall record and conference record and further strengthen their hold on the AFC.
Patriots fans have to feel good (and Steelers fans, quite bad) about Roethlisberger going out of his way to rant about Thursday night games on Monday. It’s not that he’s wrong, it’s that he’s focused too much on the problems with the game instead of just accepting that he needs to deal with something that’s really beyond his control as an individual player. You’d never hear this kind of rant, on day one of preparation no less, from Tom Brady about having to play on Thursday.
Roethlisberger, who has a passer rating of just 83.9 this season, has already built in his excuses for why he may not look so sharp on Thursday night against the Titans. He sounds more like Richie Incognito than Richard Sherman. The Steelers better hope that he out-performs his own expectations, because the game could be the beginning of their downfall from the top of the AFC.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, CBS, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.