The retired quarterback had Pickett as a guest on his podcast, “Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger,” over the weekend and admitted he initially didn’t want the then-rookie to have immediate success last season.
“I’ll be completely honest, I’ll be super transparent here and I’m gonna get blasted,” Roethlisberger said. “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 2021 season following 18 seasons with the Steelers, winning two Super Bowls and setting several franchise records.
The Steelers selected Pickett with their first-round draft pick last year, and he broke into the lineup in Week 4 and became the starter the following week, leading the Steelers to a 9-8 record after the team started 2-6.
“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.
But Roethlisberger said by Pickett’s third game, his attitude changed.
“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.”
He added that he’s now a “fan” of Pickett and complimented him on his running ability. He said he also enjoys texting Pickett after games.
“It means the world,” Pickett said of having Roethlisberger’s support, adding that he studied him when he was playing at Pitt.
Roethlisberger said he believes Pickett is “the future of this team.”
“I really do,” he said. “And I think the fans should be lucky. They are lucky they got you.”
Ben Roethlisberger initially didn’t want Kenny Pickett to succeed