This is our franchise quarterback. His name is Ben Roethlisberger.
He is pictured here with his “drink like a champion” T-shirt.
(By the way, this is on the first page of results on a Google Image Search for Ben Roethlisberger. Jump it.)
Let’s face the facts here: Ben Roethlisberger is a giant douchebag. He’s a huge dude, played football his whole life, probably calls people, “bro” a whole lot, and is adored by every football fan in a big time football city. But let’s take a look at proveable douchey things he does.
- He has at one point or another, ridden a motorcycle around with no helmet and nearly killed himself.
- He still wears Harley Davidson T-shirts despite this.
- He slept with some desk clerk or something from a hotel in Tahoe he stayed in (I didn’t say he raped her, but they totally did it).
- He wears a “drink like a champion” T-shirt while posing with some overtan smiley bitch at what I can only presume is a frat party.
- In accordance with #4, he celebrates his 28th birthday by barhopping a college town with a bunch of 20-year old girls.
See the picture I’m painting here? Ben is more or less a frat boy in the offseason. On the football field, he’s a tremendous leader. He has great escapability and he has a great talent for slinging the football downfield. His team is never out of a game when he’s on the field. But that’s where the “almighty godsend” image ends. Every offseason, something different is being added to the Roethlisberger file. And now two seasons in a row, it’s legal trouble, and it’s endangering his standing in the league.
But I don’t care about that. As a football fan, and a Steeler fan, I only care about whether or not Ben can help my favorite team win football games. I’m not asking him to house-sit while I go vacationing in the Caribbean, trusting him to leave the wet bar in my basement untouched. I’m trusting him to help my favorite football team win games. That’s his job, and it’s all he’s required to do. However, there is still a line. And that line is the law. Don’t cross it please, Ben. I, we, don’t need you getting suspended for your shenanigans.
I write this post because of some speculation I heard between Rich Eisen and Jason LaCanfora that if Ben keeps getting into trouble, he’ll be on his way out in Pittsburgh. After all, the Rooneys don’t stand for bad behavior, even from their star players. Even if the NFL doesn’t take action, surely the Rooneys will, right?! Well, no, not exactly. The idea that the Rooneys have a zero-tolerance policy, even for superstars, is false. Remember when Cedric Wilson had his standoff with his crazy girlfriend or whatever? He was released the following day, before the legal system did anything.
Because he was expendable.
- Back when Deshea Townsend was a starter, I vaguely recall him having some kind of domestic issue with his wife/girlfriend/life partner. Nothing came of it. He was the starting CB.
- James Harrison is… well. James Harrison. He’s a borderline dirty player and had an off the field issue once or twice, most recently being when his pit bull attacked his infant son. Steelers didn’t bat an eye. James Harrison was the Defensive Player of the Year and a focal point of the great Steelers’ defense.
- Ben Roethlisberger was accused of rape in summer 2009, and without the legal process every really getting anything done, he came to training camp, played the season and did pretty well for himself. He’s freakin’ Ben Roethlisberger, the franchise quarterback that brought two Superbowl titles in four years to Pittsburgh. All he did in 2008 was play big in the clutch and win it all.
- In 2010, Ben is being charged with sexual assault pending investigations from everyone and their grandmother. If the NFL doesn’t take action, neither will the Steelers. That would be stupid. He’s the centerpiece of their offense.
It’s management’s job to make sure the players and coaches win games. There will be a lot less of that happening if Ben is watching from a press box on suspension. To suspend Ben would be to fail at doing their jobs, and they won’t do it.
So let’s say the NFL steps in and sits Ben down for… maybe a whole season. Let’s say he ends up in jail, even. Here are good things about that situation:
- Maybe he’ll finally get it, that he can’t just do whatever he wants with no reprocussions.
- Dennis Dixon is awesome, and they’ll sign Jake Delhomme or trade for Brady Quinn or bring Drew Bledsoe out of retirement or whatever to back him up.
- If this really is the Ravens’ year (as it looks to be on paper), then Steeler fans everywhere would have an excuse for letting them win. Don’t lie, you know you’d be thinking it and you know you’d say it to the first Raven fan you saw.
So will all these things hurt Ben’s reputation? Absolutely. When people look back in 20 years and think about Ben Roethlisberger, what image will they have? It could be the gambling gunslinger that won Superbowls with the Steelers, transforming them from a smashmouth running offense to a spread offense that could win games in the clutch. Or they could see an idiot who let fame and money go to his head and got in legal trouble that he never really escaped. Which will it be?
That’s your call, Ben.