Pittsburgh Steelers coordinator Bruce Arians: 'We're going to stand behind' Ben Roethlisberger
Published: Monday, June 28, 2010
Steve Irvine -- The Birmingham News
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians says he doesn't give up on his players. (The Birmingham News / Jeff Roberts)
Bruce Arians heard what was being said outside the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.
He heard fans and media suggest that it might be time to trade Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger because of his off-the-field behavior.
For Arians, the Steelers offensive coordinator since 2007, it was not a comfortable situation.
"When you hear those kind of things, you just know what the source is and your core values are not going to let you do that," Arians said. "It's never been brought up where I've been that you give up on your guys, especially when you truly knew who they were.
"I think all of us in our organization know who Ben is and we're going to stand behind him."
Arians was in town over the weekend for the Arians Pro Football Academy Camp at Hoover High School.
The camp, run by his son, Jake, a former kicker at UAB and in the NFL, also featured former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis.
The subject of Roethlisberger came up quickly when the elder Arians met with the media on Friday.
Roethlisberger has been suspended for at least the first four games and possi bly the first six of the 2010 season after violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault by a 20-year-old college student after an encounter in a Georgia bar. He became the first NFL player to be suspended under the personal conduct policy while never having been charged with a crime.
"He's not my son but (I'm) like an uncle that you like," said Arians, who coached under Paul "Bear" Bryant at Alabama in 1981-82 and was the offensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide in 1997.
"I guess I'm that guy. We play a lot of golf together, spend a lot of time together. It's hard, really hard. I'll go to the grave defending him. I've always been brought up that way. Coach Bryant said 'You never turn your back on one of yours.'"
Bettis, who retired after the Steelers beat Seattle 21-10 in Super Bowl XL on Feb. 5, 2006 in Detroit, also offered support for Roethlisberger.
"He made some mistakes, we all do," Bettis said. "You say what you did is not right and you discipline him for that and I think that's what is happening. At the end of the day, you give him an opportunity to be a better person. Now, if he doesn't take advantage of the opportunity, then that's another story."
Arians' task now is getting Byron Leftwich, Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch ready to handle the quarterback duties while also giving Roethlisberger some work.
Roethlisberger's suspension doesn't keep him out of training camp. Once the season begins, however, he is not allowed to take part in any of the Steelers' activities.
Arians said he's confident that each of the other three quarterbacks can help the Steelers win games but none of them can do the things Roethlisberger does.
"It's the improvisation that he brings to the game," Arians said. "His skill level, I don't think there's any better in the National Football League than him after a play breaks down or when he starts creating a play."
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