In a nutshell, it's "keep my name out of your mouth."
Hines Ward told UPI that the two-time Super Bowl champion is aware of the policy. It's one Ward handed down to the players who came up through the storied AFC North franchise.
Those seven words kept the Steelers soldered together under Cowher, who coached the team for 15 years, leading them to the playoffs 10 times and a Super Bowl in 2006. The policy meant not talking about teammates outside of the team facility.
That's a culture with which today's Steelers seem unfamiliar, according to Ward. The two-time Super Bowl champion spent his entire 14-year career with the Steelers, nine seasons under Cowher and five under Tomlin.
"The culture [Tomlin] has created is not the standard of the Pittsburgh Steelers," Ward said.
"That was the passing of the torch; now it's a circus up there," Ward said.
"I think everyone has their hand in the pot and it starts with coach Tomlin. That's the culture you created. That's the culture you set by treating certain players one way and allowing certain players to do it a different way.
"You are setting up to open a can of worms by doing that and it kinda got exposed this year. The Steelers are too talented not to be in the playoffs this year. That's a reflection to me of the head coach."
Pittsburgh posted a 9-6-1 record, finishing second in the AFC North and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The season began with star running back Le'Veon Bell not showing up to sign his franchise tender and then deciding not to show up at all. It ended with star wide receiver Antonio Brown wanting out of Pittsburgh.
Offensive linemen called out Bell, citing how much more money he was making than them.
On Thursday, Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster compared the team's drama to the Kardashians.
Reports emerged from Pittsburgh in early January, saying that Brown requested a trade. Sources said that Brown had issues with Tomlin and Roethlisberger's relationship.
Ward said the main difference between Cowher and Tomlin was the unequal treatment of players. He remembers Cowher cussing out Bettis during his time in Pittsburgh.
Veterans "patrolled" the locker room under Cowher, according to Ward.
"When your leader can get cussed out by the coach, then anyone can be," Ward said. "It's the same way with the Patriots. You look at coach [Bill] Belichick. You look at the players and you hear them doing interviews, they all sound like Belichick; straight to the point.
"When you hear the Steelers with Tomlin, you hear guys talking about their own injuries, calling out what guys need to be doing out there. To me that's not the culture that you want to try to create. That's not a championship culture."
The Steelers beat the Patriots on Dec. 16, but split their final two games to miss the postseason.
Ward -- a spokesman for Hyundai, promoting its Shopper Assurance Program -- said Pittsburgh is talented enough to play with the Patriots or the Rams.
"It's hard to win championships when you have a bunch of individuals doing their own thing," Ward said. "They are a living testament of that. It's hard to maintain that brotherhood when you have guys going and criticizing each other and giving the media something to talk about."
While Patriots quarterback Tom Brady does appear on a weekly radio program, he doesn't have his own show like Roethlisberger. Ward says the show is an issue for the Steelers.
"'Big Ben,' when you go on a radio show every week and you criticize players on there, that's a real problem," Ward said. "No player wants to be criticized by their own, when they are out there trying to bust their tail. They can come to me and talk to me as a man. Our rule: leave my name out of your mouth in the media."
Roethlisberger's criticisms can't be equally answered, according to Ward. The quarterback's former teammate said that if a wide receiver fired back, he could see fewer targets on Sundays.
"Now the media is saying Ben said this, what do you think? Even if [a receiver] is mad, he can't say anything or else he is going to make the media. As a receiver, we are handicapped to the quarterback because if you piss off the quarterback, guess what? You aren't getting balls thrown to you."
"It's almost like c'mon, that's not cool. That right there is a recipe for disaster."
Ward said the Steelers have to look in the mirror and be accountable if they want to be in the same position as the Patriots.
"My time in Pittsburgh, the culture, the environment, the expectation level, it was Super Bowl or nothing," Ward said. "We are the only organization with six."
"We have New England on our heels. It's the culture. Every time you walked in that building, you saw the Lombardi Trophy. You praised the guys that played before you and wore the same uniforms."
Ward has not spoken to Roethlisberger about the criticism. He said that if Roethlisberger chose to retire, the dynamics of the team would change.
"Is it fun for you to be that leader? Everyone coming for you ... we had to do it when he was young," Ward said. "I still think the Steelers have a lot of talent and can still make another run at it.
"Tom Brady is getting older, but he is still playing at a high level. The Steelers added new pieces here and there on defense. If A.B. stays or doesn't stay, they still have the offensive line, James Conner, JuJu. They still have the talent. They can still go out there and produce and have a successful season."