Thursday, February 23, 2012

Big Ben's Barracks: An Insider's Look at the Big Ben-Todd Haley Sitdown

By GTOG Staff

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reportedly took the first step early this week in what will be his ongoing evaluation of new Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Team officials invited GTOG to document the interaction between Ben and Haley as part of a massive effort to document the life and times of Ben, in preparation for what will ultimately be an epic autobiography entitled, "My Guys." We were happy to oblige. Roethlisberger sat down with Haley in the coach's new office at the team's South Side training facility. The following is a verbatim transcript of the meeting.

Ben (extending his hand): Mr. Haley.

Haley (staring at Ben's hand for a beat, then shaking): Nice grip, soldier. I like my men to have big, powerful hands. Have a seat.

The full conversation, after the jump

Ben: My right wrist is currently broken in 7 places, but no excuses, I gutted out that handshake. Pain was unbearable. And with all due respect, Mr. Haley, that's Commander Ben, Leader of Men.

Haley: I'm more comfortable calling you "soldier." Clear chain of command is a tradition in my family, which, as you know, is one of the most celebrated families in the history of this great organization. I know. It's embarrassing. I don't like to talk about it.

Ben: Here's the situation. These are my Men. I command this Battalion of Men. From Plax to Twan to Hines to Tone to Twan again to Tonio, these are my Men. We've won many hard fought battles when I've had severely sprained ankles.

Haley (putting his feet on his desk and his hands behind his head): Ben. Think of this as a series of motherf***ing umbrellas, ok? Of different sizes. Your men are under your umbrella, and they all fit nicely. But I don't fit under your motherf***ing umbrella. Fortunately, my umbrella is big enough to cover me, you, Tonio, Hines, the super-fast kid with the f***ed up hair, and the other young kid. It's an enormous f***ing umbrella, and I can't wait to work with you.

Ben: In 2005, I played a game during a monsoon in Denver with two broken wrists, a severed Achilles, a punctured lung, and a Grade 41 concussion. Or maybe it was in Miami. I don't remember.

Haley: I'm not a "systems" guy.

Ben: What does "systems" mean?

Haley: Newness isn't comfortable. It's not supposed to be. Newness can crawl up your ass every day, but newness can also be like a warm breeze caressing your broken nose, your high ankle sprain, and your bruised shoulder. It's all up to you.

Ben: My offense is my offense. It's taken our team 8 years to master this plan of attack. Do you think it's easy for me to yell hike and then run around for 8 seconds while the enemy chases me all over the field and Tone, Twan, Tonio and my guys break off their patterns, pout because I'm about to get sacked, then realize I escaped so they sprint down the field? I practiced that with B.A. for 5 years.

Haley: I understand what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler. I was the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Ben: When are you going to call me?

Haley: I'm not a "phone" guy. I'm really looking forward to communicating with you after you call my secretary to schedule an appointment.

Ben: We were 21st in scoring last season. My Band of Brothers doesn't want to change.

Haley: Well, Lieutenant, I feel good about the possibilities here. I was there that day you threw that last-minute touchdown pass to beat my offense, which was on the verge of embarrassing the Steelers' top-ranked defense, so I know you have potential.

Ben:  I think you've got a lot of potential too, coach. I've taken the liberty of bringing in B.A. to work with you on some things. Come on in, B.A.

Bruce Arians: Hi, Todd. Bruce Arians. You can call me B.A.

Haley: Terrific. Hi, Bruce. I have a 9 o'clock call. Bruce, grab me a cup of coffee. Thanks. Ben, my door is always open.

Ben: My door and Bruce's door is always open. Thanks for coming.

Haley: Thank you. This is my office.

Ben: Glad to have you on board.

Haley: Happy you're on my team.

Ben: I'm happy to lead you.

Haley: Excited to have you working for me.

Ben: I'm a great boss.

Haley: Bruce. The coffee. Thanks.

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