Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL [Print without images]

Thursday, August 14, 2014
Roethlisberger 'hurt' by comments

By Scott Brown
ESPN.com

LATROBE, Pa. -- Ben Roethlisberger is "disappointed" that he has yet to hear from former teammate Emmanuel Sanders, who called Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning a "far better leader" than the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback a couple of weeks ago and has since stood by his comments.

"I know he told some other guys, 'You know I love Ben. I didn't mean it like that.' I wish he would have reached out to me and just say that, and I would have been fine with it," Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Whether he meant it or not, it hurt in a sense that I tried so hard to keep him here last year and was always supporting him. When he was down in practice, I always talked to him."

Sanders signed with the Broncos as an unrestricted free agent in March and told a Denver radio station that Manning is a better leader than Roethlisberger because he stays after practice to work with the wide receivers.

Sanders, who played for the Steelers from 2010 to 2013, told NFL Network that he doesn't regret what he said when comparing Manning and Roethlisberger as leaders.

Emmanuel Sanders and Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger, right, says he was disappointed that former teammate Emmanuel Sanders didn't reach out to him to explain his comments.

"If I said it, I meant it," Sanders said. "It wasn't meant as disrespect for anyone. I've got so much love for everybody over there in Pittsburgh, and they know it; they know me. I didn't mean any harm."

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has criticized Sanders for taking what has largely been perceived as a shot at Roethlisberger. Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis has said that Sanders' comments were misguided.

Roethlisberger has never been more engaged when it comes to working with the Steelers' wide receivers. The 11th-year veteran said Wednesday that he has helped coach the wide receivers more at this training camp than at any point of his career.

"It's been fun. It's something that I need to do and want to do," Roethlisberger said. "The coach can tell them what they're supposed to do, but if I tell them what I want them to do, it's a big difference. It's been a good [camp] in that sense."