From Teresa Varley, Steelers.com:
While it might not sound like something major or earth-shattering, music playing in a locker room while players are sitting around or just getting ready isn’t uncommon.
But not in the Steelers locker room.
And there was a reason why.
Ben Roethlisberger asked guys not to play it because late Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney Sr. would often walk in, and when he spoke to the players in his soft tone, Roethlisberger wanted to make sure everyone could hear every word he said.
“It was always Mr. Rooney, Mr. Dan. I don’t know why, it was just always that way. I think as guys started to leave the locker room that tradition of history, I tried to keep it going, Brett Keisel kept it going, (Maurkice) Pouncey. I always told guys, because people would play music, new guys would come in and play music. I would shut it down. I was the grumpy old man that didn’t want music. I had a conversation with guys like Cam Heyward and Vince Williams and told him the reason that we don’t do it is because I always wanted if Mr. Rooney came in the locker room, you wanted to listen to him. You wanted to hear the things he had to say. Whether it was about Steelers or about life. About whatever.
“He was like a grandfather to all of us and so much love for him. Obviously as new guys came in and Mr. Rooney wasn’t around, they don’t understand that quite as much, so we tried to pass it on. Even after he passed, I tried to tell guys I still wait for him to walk through that door to come talk. And you just want to listen to him because he was so soft spoken, but it was so wise.
“So that was always my thing of why I didn’t want the music because you never had it when he was around. I wanted to carry that on and the last couple of years I just kind of relented. I’ll stop being the grumpy guy and if they want to listen to music, they can listen to music.”
Roethlisberger said he had no problem understanding traditions like that when he was drafted by the Steelers, a lot of it due to the respect he had for Dan Rooney.
“Right from the get-go I respected and understood the tradition here. I guess I was raised to respect your elders and to understand. Mr. Rooney just meant so much, especially knowing what he did to get me here. It meant a lot.”
Since Rooney passed away in 2017, there has been a lot of turnover on the Steelers roster, and Roethlisberger admits many of the players on today’s roster don’t even know who he was.
“You can pass it on and like I said, I told those guys the story of why I didn’t want the music because I just loved to hear the stories. But you can only tell guys those stories so much. You could pass on tradition all you want, but the further you get away from some, the harder it is to do.”
What does Ben think of Diontae Johnson? You can find out here.