I’m so sick of people asking me about Ben Roethlisberger. Yes, I’m a huge Steelers fan. Yes, I’ve been a Big Ben supporter ever since he won his first Super Bowl with us. Yes, yes, yes, I am now severely offended, angered, and irritated with his dumb ass. For me, it is official: Big Ben is a big doofus.
Last Wednesday, Roethlisberger was suspended six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. This comes a week after prosecutors decided not to charge Roethlisberger in a case involving a 20-year-old college student who accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Georgia nightclub in March. Then, came the draft, and there were mutterings of a trade. The Steelers were willing to trade Big Ben for a first round, top ten draft pick. No one bit the bait, but I was left conflicted. Did I want to trade Ben Roethlisberger? Or did I want him to stay?
I know how Steelers president Art Rooney was feeling. He’d just booted Super Bowl savior Santonio Holmes for violating the league’s drug policies. Holmes will now be a New York Jet, and although I was shocked at this announcement, good riddance to bad rubbish. Which is now how I’m beginning to feel about Roethlisberger.
What did you expect, man? That the girl in Georgia wouldn’t recognize you? Like you don’t stick out in a crowd. You’re a 6-foot-five Neanderthal with enough Super Bowl bling to blind half of Atlanta, and you thought you’d get away with being a jack ass? Or was it your entitlement? Because you’re a successful quarterback and respected team leader, she should be honored that you chose to sexually assault her? Hmm? Tell me, Big Ben, do you have a response, or did the 50 sacks in 2009 shake your brain loose?
The other night, Jake asked me if I would give up on the Steelers if we lost Ben, because it is assumed that if we lose Ben, we might start sucking even more than we did last year. And no one wants to root for a sucky team, right? At the time, his comment irked me. I responded with, “Of course, I’ll still like the Steelers without Big Ben.” But then Jake continued: “What if you traded Troy Polamalu? What if you got rid of Hines Ward? What if Tomlin went and coached another team?”
I stuck to my guns at the time. YES, I WILL ALWAYS LOVE THE STEELERS!!!! But that may have been just pride. Since our conversation, I’ve gotten to thinking. Wasn’t I sad when Jerome Bettis retired? Wasn’t I disappointed when Bill Cowher put down the headphones? What is a team, if not a group of players? And what is it that we, as fans, are really clinging to? It’s not because we like the color of our jerseys. It’s not necessarily because we live in, say, Pittsburgh, because I don’t now and I never have. Maybe it really is about the players. And what happens to a team when the players become the enemy? What happens to a fan when a hero falls?
I don’t know what this NFL season will bring. Donovan McNabb is a Redskin. Holmes is a Jet. Terrell Owens is still a nothing. And Ben Roethlisberger—my quarterback—is a doofus. All I can tell you is I miss the days when I respected my football icons. I miss the days of Big Ben being squeaky clean. And soon, with my team in such upheaval, I may be saying, “I miss the days when the Steelers had their shit together.”