Much has been written and said about wayward Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Lord knows nobody has had the guts and integrity to approach the topic with such honesty as yours truly. But the truth is, I like the big lug. He reminds me of Rain Man, an idiot savante at the game of football. What people don’t understand is I kid because I love. And, to be fair, Steeler Nation has done more than their fair share of laughing at the criminal element on teams such as the Bengals or Cowboys.
If we can’t laugh at ourselves, then we really are the sanctimonious dicks which other cities claim us to be.
With that in mind, it’s important to acknowledge the past. And in the case of Benjamin J. Roethlisberger, that is not a pretty subject at all. I repeated for years that Big Ben has been a bad teammate and a bad apple to a skeptical readership, many of whom live in other cities and therefore are woefully uninformed. Recent stories such as the must-read in Sports Illustrated have since validated my statements. Thus the lesson to remember is I always speak the truth.
The good news it appears that is all changing. When the Steelers public relations tools in the local media (ie: every reporter in this city) say Ben is kissing babies and helping old ladies across the street, I never believe them. The local media is in bed with Big Ben and the Steelers and should always be considered suspect.
However, when somebody such as legendary Steelers coach Bill Cowher says Ben has started to come around, you take it seriously. Cowher is the greatest coaches in history and a man of the highest integrity. He doesn’t kiss anybody’s ass. And considering he and Ben weren’t exactly the best of friends, his opinion of the man should count more than most.
In a recent interview, Cowher says the recent events have “slapped Ben in the face” and made him realize what a colossal dick he has been. He says that they have been closer than ever and he’s seeing the much needed maturity the 28 year old frat boy has sorely lacked for years.
While I still believe Ben has a lot to work to do to repair his reputation (a single off-season without a rape accusation would be a nice start), this is indeed great news. The Steelers have a pre-season game against the Broncos on Sunday night which brings this situation into crystal clear focus. Denver has a Christian gentleman by the name of Tim Tebow at quarterback. Regardless of whether the team wins or loses, that fan base can hold their heads high because they have a classy honorable man representing their city. It’s unfortunate that Steeler Nation can no longer say that but hopefully the disgraceful actions of the past five years will allow us to be similarly proud of our quarterback going forward.
Or, as Coach Cowher so eloquently told Ben, winning isn’t the important thing, “It’s the whole body of work. It’s you as a person, what kind of legacy you want to leave.” Let’s hope when the legacy of Big Ben is written, it’ll be a story of redemption rather than shame.