Ben Roethlisberger To Kenny Pickett: 'I Didn't Want You To Succeed'

By Jason Hall

May 22, 2023

Photo: Getty Images

Retired former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told his long-term successor, Kenny Pickett, "early on I didn't want you to succeed," during a recent appearance on his Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger podcast.

"I'll be completely honest, I'll be super transparent here, and I'm gonna get blasted," Roethlisberger said (h/t ESPN). "I probably shouldn't say this, but who cares at this point. I wouldn't say that I wanted Kenny to necessarily fail, but when someone comes to replace you, I still feel like I had it, I hope he doesn't come ball out. Because then it's like, Ben who?"

Roethlisberger retired after the conclusion of the 2021 season, having spent his entire 18-year NFL career with the Steelers. Pittsburgh then selected Pickett, a former University of Pittsburgh standout, at No. 20 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft several months later, marking the first time the franchise had used a first-round pick on a quarterback since Roethlisberger 18 years prior.

"Early on I didn't want you to succeed because you followed me up -- I didn't want it to happen. I think that's probably the selfishness of me, and I feel bad for it," Roethlisberger told Pickett.

Pickett took over for veteran quarterback Mitch Trubisky in Week 4 and was named the starter ahead of the team's next game, leading the Steelers to a 9-8 record after an initial 2-6 start and Roethlisberger said his attitude changed after Pickett's third game, claiming he's now a "fan" of the 24-year-old.

"As you started playing, I found myself rooting more and more for you," Roethlisberger said. "I wanted you to succeed, I wanted you to win games, I wanted you to go in the playoffs. I feel bad that I felt that early on, but I'm glad I transitioned to loving and rooting for you."

"It means the world," Pickett responded, acknowledging that he studied his successor while playing at the University of Pittsburgh.

Roethlisberger then told Pickett he believes he's "the future of this team," adding that he thought "the fans should be lucky" to have him.

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