Ward apologizes to Steelers for Big Ben remarks

PITTSBURGH (AP) -Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward extended his apology to Ben Roethlisberger to all of his teammates, saying he didn't mean to create a distraction by questioning why a concussion kept the quarterback from playing against Baltimore.

Ward called Roethlisberger on Monday to say he was sorry for wondering why the quarterback was held out of the Steelers' 20-17 overtime loss to the Ravens the night before. Ward wasn't aware a team doctor advised Roethlisberger not to play due to post-concussion headaches that followed each of the team's three practices last week.

Roethlisberger hasn't reported any headaches since Friday and practiced Wednesday for Sunday's game against Oakland (3-8).

Ward is disappointed he spoke out of frustration in an NBC-TV interview taped Saturday night, not long after learning Roethlisberger wouldn't play in an important game for last season's Super Bowl champions.

In hindsight, we're never going to jeopardize a man's health issues to play a game,'' Ward said Wednesday.A lot of people forget, Ben came from a motorcycle incident (in 2006) and still had a lot of head trauma, so we don't want to ... push him to play a game. I wasn't trying to really not be concerned about his head injury. We were just frustrated we didn't have our starting quarterback.''

Roethlisberger talked with Ward at length on Monday night and the two apparently put the incident behind them.

``You know what, he called me, we talked, we're moving on and everything is fine,'' Roethlisberger said.

Because Ward estimated his teammates were split 50-50 over whether Roethlisberger should play, coach Mike Tomlin and other players are being asked if the Steelers are a divided team.

I apologized to the team for having to even answer questions about this. ... That was never my intention, I didn't want this to be a distraction,'' Ward said.I should have just took the time and took the emotions out of it and just gave the politically correct answer.''

Linebacker James Farrior said Ward, a team captain, didn't need to apologize.

I think it's over with and it's not going to be a distraction for this team. We're just going to move forward,'' he said.We wanted to have all the people out there who could give us the best chance to win, and Hines was just upset.''

The Steelers (6-5) have lost three in a row to fall two games behind Cincinnati (8-3) in the AFC North race and jeopardize their chances of returning to the AFC playoffs for the seventh time in nine seasons.

No, no, no,'' Ward said, asked if the team's unity was shaken.I just think we need to get that taste of winning back. It's frustrating when you lose to Kansas City, you come back and you know it's going to be a tough game in Baltimore, and then not having your quarterback ... In the course of losing three games in a row, we just need to get back on a winning track. Winning solves everything.''

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