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Roethlisberger: I initially didn't want Pickett to succeed as Steelers' starter

Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport / Getty

It wasn't easy for Ben Roethlisberger to see Kenny Pickett take over as starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Roethlisberger told Pickett on his podcast "Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger" that he initially didn't want him to do well, but that changed as the 2022 season progressed.

"I wouldn't say that I wanted Kenny to necessarily fail," Roethlisberger said. "But like, you know when someone comes to replace you and you're like, 'I still feel like I had it, I hope he doesn't come ball out.' Because then it's like, 'Ben who?'"

He continued: "But, honestly, as you started playing, I found myself rooting more and more for you."

Roethlisberger admitted he "felt bad" about not supporting Pickett initially and said it likely stemmed from his own "selfishness." He added he was unaware of Pickett's potential.

"I just didn't know. I had no idea. I didn't know that you were the runner that you were. ... I was pleasantly surprised and glad that I was wrong," Roethlisberger said.

The 41-year-old went on to call Pickett "the future" of the Steelers.

Pickett, whom Pittsburgh selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, made his NFL debut in Week 4 of last season before starting the following game. The 24-year-old found his form down the stretch after a slow start to his rookie campaign, engineering four game-winning drives in the last eight games.

"As the season went on, he got to his third game playing, I was rooting for him," Roethlisberger said. "I was excited for you. I wanted you to succeed, I wanted you to win games, I wanted you to get to the playoffs. And so I feel bad that I felt that early on, but I'm glad I transitioned to loving and rooting for you."

Roethlisberger spent his entire 18-year career with the Steelers, leading them to two Super Bowl victories and establishing numerous franchise passing records. He retired after the 2021 campaign.

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