LATROBE, Pa. – Ben Roethlisberger not only had a long-awaited heart-to-heart with wide receiver Martavis Bryant, but he’s publicly stumping for Bryant to return to the practice field as soon as possible.
Bryant, who remains under conditional NFL reinstatement over multiple drug violations, told ESPN’s Dan Graziano in July that he and Roethlisberger should have a “man-to-man” discussion over the quarterback’s remarks about Bryant’s season-long suspension in 2016.
Roethlisberger said he spoke with Bryant two days ago and the conversation was “good” but doesn’t plan to elaborate.
“We were never really off the same page,” said Roethlisberger about the dynamic with Bryant. “It appeared that way to outsiders, but between us, there was never an issue.”
Before last year’s camp, Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he felt Bryant misled him when asked what happened with his suspension. Roethlisberger called that denial “just kind of disappointing.”
In the interview with Graziano, Bryant said he didn’t agree with “some of the things (Roethlisberger) put out there about me” and wanted to discuss that with him.
Bryant, who’s an enormous talent with 15 career touchdowns but 20 missed games due to suspensions, says he’s been clean for more than a year and believes his problems are behind him.
Roethlisberger hopes Bryant can start that process on the field. Bryant isn’t allowed to practice with the team until the NFL clears him.
“I hope (he’s reinstated today). Goodness. He’s done everything the league has asked,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m not really sure why they keep holding him out from being out there with the guys. To me that’s the best is for him to be out there with his brothers. I’m not sure what the holdup is but I know he’s doing everything he can to be out there….Goodness, you’d think he’s paid his dues.”
Roethlisberger said he’s sent a few unanswered texts to absent running back Le’Veon Bell, who has yet to sign his $12.1-million franchise tender, but hopes he’s back in the lineup soon.
As for his own future, Roethlisberger, 35, who is focused on this season and won’t commit to 2018 and beyond, said there is one thing that might keep him playing into his late-30s.
“If those guys in the front play as well as they’ve been playing, getting sacked 17 times in a year, that might keep me around a little longer,” said Roethlisberger about his offensive line. “They are probably the most important part of this team.”