Emmanuel Sanders opens up about ‘jerk’ Ben Roethlisberger

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is preparing for the third Super Bowl of his career. It will be with his third team.

Sanders, a former Pro Bowler, was acquired by the San Francisco 49ers from the Denver Broncos back in October. That came after five-plus tremendous seasons with the Denver Broncos.

Originally a third-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sanders spent four seasons with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown on the team.

He’s now speaking out on his relationship with the two divisive former teammates. It’s not great.

”Me and AB kind of fell off after that whole NFL Network thing,’’ Sanders said, via Ed Bouchette of The Athletic. “He’s dealing with enough. I have so much love for the dude. I’m praying everything just works out for him. But after the NFL Network thing and I told him he was wrong the way he exited out of Pittsburgh, he cut me off.”

Sanders had previously gone on record blasting both Brown and Big Ben after their spat led to the receiver’s depature from Pittsburgh and ultimate demise from the NFL.

By now, it’s well known that Brown and Roethlisberger did not have a great relationship. Now a free agent dealing with a multitude of legal issues, most figured Brown played the biggest role in that marriage ending in a premature divorce.

As it relates Sanders, he’s not painting Big Ben in the best of lights either.

“I would love that, but me and Ben don’t have the best relationship. I believe that bridge is burnt,” Sanders responded when asked if he might consider re-signing with Pittsburgh in free agency. “When I first got to Pittsburgh, Ben was still like a little bit of (a jerk) and a lot of people didn’t know that. That was in 2010. Ben has grown up a lot, you know? He was still like a (jerk). I had to deal with him for like two years as a rookie with him being (a jerk), you know. I said who the (heck) is this dude? So I grew to not like him but just to deal with him. But from what I’ve heard, he’s grown up a lot, which is good because I’ve grown up too.”

That’s whole lot to process right there. Based on Sanders’ comments, it seems rather clear that the environment in Pittsburgh was not too great.

Sure Big Ben has seemingly matured, but there’s likely still somewhat of a rift within the locker room.

It’s always interesting to get the opinion of someone who is no longer on the inside. Set to play in Super Bowl LIV, Sanders is just the man to ask about the toxic Pittsburgh environment he eventually departed in 2014.