‘Glad He’s Rooting For Me Now’: Kenny Pickett Talks Succeeding Ben Roethlisberger, All Pulling For Steelers
There have never been 32 “franchise” quarterbacks in the NFL at the same time. Ever. And there never will be. Every year there will always be teams on the eternal quest for their guy at the all-important quarterback position. So the odds of having two on the roster at the same time, or getting one after the other, are rather low.
That’s only part of what makes following in the footsteps of a legend so difficult, as Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett is fully aware. Having played for the University of Pittsburgh in the same practice facility, the same stadium, he was drafted in the first round in 2022 as the successor to Ben Roethlisberger.
And as he found out last year, the icon wasn’t quite ready to cede his position even though he retired. Earlier this year, Roethlisberger admitted that he wasn’t at first rooting for Pickett to succeed and to essentially take his place and begin to make the fans forget about him.
“Listen, he’s a legend, he’s a Hall of Famer, he’s got two Super Bowls. His resume speaks for itself”, Pickett told Robert Griffin III on The Ones in recalling Roethlisberger’s revelation to him. “He’s an unbelievable player. Glad he’s rooting for me now and rooting for us and pushing in the same direction”.
And he is, well and truly. He’s a Steelers fan through and through and rooting for Pickett. He doesn’t have much choice, anyway, because his kids are Pickett fans now. It was just a process of learning to drop that ego following decades at the helm. And perhaps giving some consideration to the position his own legacy put Pickett in as the next in line.
“You know it’s gonna be tough. You’re lying to yourself if you don’t think it is. You’re replacing a Hall of Famer, a guy that’s played at the highest level for so long”, Pickett acknowledged. “He’s all these people have known for  years; for five of them I was next door watching. You understand that and you’re honest with yourself, but you quickly have so many things going on that you’re just trying to win”.
By and large, he’s done that. He has the Steelers sitting at 6-3 right now, in position to reach the postseason and still very much in contention for the division title. They control their own destiny in that regard. If they were to win out, they would be no worse than the third seed behind the Chiefs and Jaguars (to whom they lost) in the AFC playoffs.
For an organization that so values the living lineage of its alumni, it’s certainly a good thing that Roethlisberger quickly figured out how to swallow his pride. He and Pickett seem to have a good relationship now, or at least a congenial one, participating in commercials together. But to actually live up to that legacy, Pickett’s going to have to add to the trophy room, plain and simple. Maybe give Roethlisberger something new to be upset about. Three more Lombardis, who says no?