By Thalia Bardell, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA
Well the man certainly hasn’t made any friends over the past few days. Not that he had many before, at least in light of the last couple of off-seasons. Yeah, you know whom I’m talking about. Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Now I’m going to come clean right here – I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, have been since the Kordell Stewart days and boy, were those days awful. But that is beside the point. As a Steeler fan it is impossible for me to forget what happened this past March – Big Ben allegedly sexually assaulting a woman in the seedy bathroom of a Milledgeville, Georgia bar. I must admit, however, that in the excitement of this winning season Ben’s actions had fallen to the back of my mind.
But in the two-week holding period between the championship games and the Super Bowl the media needs something to talk about. Big Ben’s bad behavior – it’s right at the top of the list. No one can get enough of Roethlisberger and for all the wrong reasons; the pot has been stirred and the rumors and questions are swirling again. Did he really assault her? Did he deserve to have his suspension shortened? How many players did NFL commissioner Roger Goodell really talk to? I’ve got Jets fans all over my Facebook wall making underage chick comments. For the record guys, the woman was 20 and last I checked that was over the age of consent — quit being sore losers. But as much as I hate the flak that I take for being a Steeler fan whenever Roethlisberger comes up I think that his behavior deserves to be dissected and that the man needs to take some heat. I’ll be the first person to tell you that as much as I love Roethlisberger on the field for his toughness, strength, and scrambling ability, off the field I think he has behaved like an irresponsible idiot. Frankly, I think the man should be placed on “gym arrest” for the entire off-season, either that or Steelers’ owner Dan Rooney needs to hire a full-time babysitter for him – just make sure she’s really unattractive – and I don’t think he’s willing to do that.
What does Big Ben have to say about all of this? Apparently, he’s a reformed sinner. He’s found out “Just how awesome having an inner peace in life can be.” Really? I haven’t found inner peace and I’ve been practicing yoga for six years and don’t even have a speeding ticket on my record. It’s unbelievable and disingenuous. Nobody in Boston believes the guy; in fact ,people seem even more incensed than when the incident originally happened because of the way Roethlisberger is handling the media. The man shows no remorse, no regret, not a single “I’m sorry for the way I acted” or “it is something that has weighed heavily on my mind.” The fact that he barely faced any consequences doesn’t help his case either – he was not criminally charged and I’m not sure a four game suspension was enough to teach him a lesson.
So what does Roethlisberger have to do to be redeemed in the eyes of the public? Does he simply need to apologize? Act like he feels at least a little badly about what happened? Or does he need to fall even further – hit rock bottom before fans will begin to redeem him? Look at Michael Vick, he’s not loved for sure, but he served jail time, seemed genuinely repentant over what he’d done, had a great season this year with the Philadelphia Eagles and he’s receiving positive and supportive attention from both media and fans. Dante Stallworth of the Baltimore Ravens served jail time when he struck and killed a construction worker while driving drunk in Miami – and the sports world has seemingly all but forgotten about that. Does Roethlisberger need to get locked up before fans say, yeah, ok, that’s enough. Perhaps he needs to pull a Tiger Woods, go to rehab and then come back and well … suck. Have a losing season; get destroyed up and down the field. There are people who like Tiger better now that he’s showed a little humanity, a little flaw.
As of right now no one is forgiving Roethlisberger because he hasn’t fallen hard enough. He’s committed wrongful actions and suffered no penalty. He’s winning Super Bowl rings and putting up Tom Brady-esque numbers but it’s only making people hate him more. The truth is that Roethlisberger, despite his on field achievements, will never be a Tom Brady, he’ll never be a truly great quarterback – he blew that in a bathroom stall. He wants to be a “role model” he says, wants young kids to wear his jersey. It’s not going to happen Ben; if I ever have a kid he’s getting a number 43 Troy Polamalu jersey and if you make an appearance it’ll be in some lecture about “learning the consequences of one’s actions.”