Sunday saw two stars publicly questioning their respective QBs. Now, with a few news cycles to think about it, Hines Ward is sorry. Brian Urlacher, not so much.
The Steelers and Bears lost big games this weekend, and the frustration mounted to the point of manufactured controversy. On the Sunday Night Football broadcast, Ward opened up to Bob Costas:
This game is almost like a playoff game. It's almost a must-win. I could see some players or teammates questioning, like, 'It's just a concussion. I've played with a concussion before. I would go out there and play.' So, it's almost like a 50-50 toss-up in the locker room, you know? Should he play? Shouldn't he play? It's really hard to say. I've been out there dinged up. The following week, got right back out there."
Only problem is, Big Ben's brain doctor told him that his brain wasn't in playing shape. So today Ward apologized to Roethlisberger via Facebook, which is apparently what you do when you've got more than 140 characters to write.
I would never question a man's toughness playing in a STEELER unif. I didn't mean to cause such a stir. My frustration was based on the fact that this was a big game for us to stay in the playoff picture and having Ben out there gave us our best opp to win in Balt. I was frustrated because there was no indication of... Ben not being able to play because he practiced a normal routine this week (wed, thurs and fri)."
"I know Ben wanted to play this game but the docs told him he's down, and with that we trust our docs with their decisions. We would never jeopardize anyone's health for a game of football. Life is way to precious. One thing about Ben, he is a WINNER. We just wanted this game so badly."
So, all's well in Pittsburgh. These things are easier to get past when you're probably playoff bound. But in Chicago, Urlacher had this to say (obliquely) about Jay Cutler:
I hate the way our identity has changed. We used to establish the run and wear teams down and try not to make mistakes, and we'd rely on our defense to keep us in the game and make big plays to put us in position to win...Kyle Orton might not be the flashiest quarterback, but the guy is a winner, and that formula worked for us. I hate to say it, but that's the truth."
Today, he was asked to clarify. He clarified very little:
I'm not taking a shot at Jay. I'm not one bit taking a shot at Jay. He throws it better, right? And we haven't tried to run the ball as much. That's true. But Kyle has won games. His formula works. So I'm not taking a shot at Jay or Kyle."
Let's translate athlete-speak into English. Urlacher had originally said "the team needs to stop throwing so much, because Cutler is a bust who can't stop throwing interceptions and is costing the team games." His carefully considered remarks two days later are that "the team needs to stop throwing so much, because Cutler is a bust who can't stop throwing interceptions and is costing the team games. But I'm not taking a shot at Jay."
The lesson: get yourself a Facebook page, Brian. As of press time, more than 1100 people clicked the little thumbs-up icon next to Ward's comments.
Hines Ward Facebook Page [Facebook]
Brian Urlacher Says Comments About Chicago Bears Teammates Not Meant To Be Derogatory [Chicago Tribune]