Kenny Pickett was drafted to be the successor to Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, but that doesn’t mean the Steelers legend was a fan at first.
With Pickett appearing on the latest episode of the Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger podcast, Roethlisberger admitted (starting at the 1:30:00 mark) that he wasn’t rooting for Pickett to have success right away as a rookie.
“Early on, I didn’t want him to succeed ’cause I didn’t want, he followed me up. I didn’t want it to happen. I think that’s probably the selfishness in me, and I feel bad for it. But as it went on, as the season went on, he got like his third game playing, I was rooting for him. I was excited for ya. 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 that I transitioned into the love and rooting for ya.”
Despite the initial thoughts, the two-time Super Bowl champion mentioned that he owned a Pickett jersey and wears it on game days.
“I was pleasantly surprised, I’m glad that I was wrong in the sense of where I had you,” Roethlisberger said. “I thought you’d be a quarterback that was good, that was going to come in…I think you are the future of this team. I really do. And I think they got, you know, the fans should be lucky, they are lucky they got you.”
He added that “it’s been fun watching” Pickett and that he is a “fan.”
Pickett was the 20th overall pick in 2022 and started 12 games for the Steelers in his rookie season. He went 7-5 as a starter and threw for 2,404 yards, seven touchdowns and nine interceptions.
He will have a long way to go if he wants to catch the future Hall of Famer in the franchise record book. Roethlisberger is the team’s all-time leading passed with 64,088 passing yards.