New Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders stirred the proverbial pot recently when he strolled out onto a short limb and declared his new quarterback Peyton Manning a better leader than his old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
It's not an insult to his old Steelers teammate, per se, in the same way calling Calvin Johnson a "better wide receiver" wouldn't be an insult to Sanders. It's just, you know, true. But Ben, understandably, is still "disappointed."
"He's going to say whatever he can about the quarterback he is with," Roethlisberger said via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I was more disappointed he didn't reach out to me. I know he told some other guys: 'You know I love Ben, I didn't mean it like that.'
"I wish he would have reached out to me and just say that and I would have been fine with it."
This is one of those sports media things that's kind of annoying. It's like the whole "are you the [top five, No. 1, best] [quarterback, cornerback, offensive player] in the game" things where the player in question has two choices. One, admit he's not the best and look like a dummy in doing so. Or two, stretch the boundaries of reality by claiming he is the best and look like a dummy in doing so.
Except Sanders didn't completely get hosed by the media in this instance.
Since, you know, he basically punched Roethlisberger's work ethic in the nose, picked it up off the ground, threw it into trunk of his car, drove it downtown and spent the afternoon lobbing it under each passing bus.
“This is the first time that I've had a quarterback that every single day after practice -- no matter what his accolades, NFL MVP, Super Bowl ring -- he keeps guys like me and [rookie receiver Cody] Latimer after practice," Sanders said. "He's not one of those guys you've got to chase down. He's going to be right in the same spot, ready to work, every single day. I just feel like that's a difference from a mental standpoint.”
No one prepares like Peyton Manning. Not just quarterbacks, but basically anyone in any vocation anywhere. The entire reason Manning broke NFL records last year isn't his physical freakiness. It's his mind and his willingness to work harder than anyone else.
So, no, Ben Roethlisberger doesn't work as hard as Peyton Manning. No one does. But Sanders didn't have to say it that way.