Kenny Pickett isn't worried about the fact Ben Roethlisberger may not have initially supported him upon becoming the Pittsburgh Steelers' new quarterback. Instead, Pickett is focused on the fact he has the support of Roethlisberger as he enters his second NFL season.
Pickett was asked about Big Ben's comments following the Steelers' first day of OTAs. Prior to OTAs, Pickett was a guest on Roethlisberger's podcast, which is when Roethlisberger shared his revelation.
"He's honest and out front about it," Pickett said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He's a fan now and he's pulling for us. It was pretty cool to hear him say that and to be at his house and to meet his kids and his wife and get to know him a little bit better.
"We'll continue to build that relationship, and I'll reach out if I have any questions. I'm excited to go into Year 2 with another guy in my corner pulling for me."
Roethlisberger's initial hesitancy to get behind Pickett had less to do with Pickett and more to do with how his career in Pittsburgh ended. Roethlisberger feels the Steelers had already come to the conclusion the 2021 season would be his last with the team. That obviously led to some conflicted feelings for Roethlisberger, who chose to retire rather than continue his career someplace else.
"I wouldn't say that I wanted Kenny to necessarily fail," Roethlisberger said on his podcast. "But when someone comes to replace you and I felt like I still had it, I hope he doesn't come and ball out, because then it's like, 'Ben who?' right?
"But honestly, as you started playing, I found myself rooting more and more for you. ... I think you're the future of this team. The fans are lucky they got you. ... I'm glad that I transitioned to loving and rooting for you. It's been fun watching you. I enjoy texting you after games. I'm a fan."
Roethlisberger's admission was clearly appreciated by Pickett, who was 6 years old when Roethlisberger began his NFL career back in 2004.
"It means the world," Pickett said on the podcast. "A lot goes into playing quarterback, as you know. ... I had my chance to watch him when I was at Pitt and now I'm playing and I'm trying to get to that [level]."
Along with both being starting quarterbacks for the Steelers, Roethlisberger and Pickett have other things in common. Both players were first-round picks who led their respective college teams to conference titles during their final seasons on campus. Both started their rookie seasons as backups before being quickly thrown into the starting lineup during a regular-season game. Both quarterbacks played well but ultimately came up short in their regular season debuts. Both players followed up that loss by posting a winning records during their rookie seasons.
Roethlisberger and Pickett also relish getting a chance to run the two-minute offense, especially with the game on the line. Roethlisberger had numerous game-winning drives during his career that included his famous touchdown pass in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIII. Pickett had four game-winning drives last season that included game-winning touchdown passes in consecutive games. Roethlisberger specifically praised Pickett for his game-winning touchdown pass to George Pickens against the Raiders on Christmas Eve.
A funny moment occurred on the podcast when the quarterbacks were discussing the two-minute offense. Roethlisberger didn't believe Pickett when he said he was throwing to Najee Harris -- and not Steven Sims -- on his game-winning pass against Baltimore in Week 16.
"I was watching your eyes," Roethlisberger said to Pickett. "No one throws the ball that hard to a running back that hard right there."
Roethlisberger did agree with Pickett that he did not practice his infamous fake slide during Pitt's ACC title game win over Wake Forest. He also reiterated his belief in the Steelers' new starting quarterback.
"It was fun to watch you this year," Roethlisberger said. "I think Pittsburgh's got a good one in you."