Thursday, February 3, 2011

BEN'S ENTITLED TO A LIFE, BUT IT'LL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN


"CLEARING MY DESK"
Editorial commentary by Angelo Spagnolo, Publisher

Okay, it's a given that Big Ben has screwed up plenty during the last few off seasons. If he wasn't wrecking his motorcycle, he was having train wrecks of other varieties. For his much-publicized brushes with the law, Roethlisberger became a pariah and was nearly shipped out a 'la Santonio Holmes. In fact, it was almost miraculous that he wasn't traded since his problems were far greater than those of Santonio Holmes. Some may argue that he's a great quarterback, the rarest of the rare commodities in the NFL. Others who focus on racial inequalities may argue that Ben, in addition to being a quarterback was also the "right color". While I personally don't prescribe to this theory, there aren't many Steelers who have screwed-up to half of the degree that Big Ben has who are still on the team.

He served a league suspension that was reduced from six games to four and has been a model citizen since his return. Despite my dislike of Roger Goodell, especially his most-recent attempts to make additional headlines for himself, I still feel that he may have unwittingly saved Roethlisberger's career from...Ben Roethlisberger.

Call it immaturity, call it being in love with yourself, call it having too much money, call it whatever you will, Roethlisberger had clearly lost his compass. His career was on the verge of an implosion.

Now comes word that Ben was out with the guys last night, treating his linemen to dinner and then drinks at a piano bar. There's no harm in that, right? Absolutely not. But in this era of instantaneous news reporting, Ben has to realize that he is now, unfortunately, a marked man. No matter how innocent this man's activities may be, like O.J. Simpson, another athlete who beat a rap for a crime that most Americans felt he had committed, Big Ben is viewed unfortunately in much the same way. Unfortunately, he's viewed by many as a rapist who plies his intended victims with liquor and who so far has eluded prosecution because of who he is, not necessarily because he's innocent. Just the way O.J. was followed around golf courses, supermarkets, fast food restaurants and laundromats, Ben Roethlisberger will be condemned to a life of having people looking through shrubs and turning on cell phone cameras in piano bars because of his past actions.

Sure, Ben did nothing wrong last night, but for as long as he is the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, he will be sentenced to a life of being scrutinized under an electron microscope. For this reason, Ben should have taken the high road and taken the guys out for a great steak dinner, a few glasses of wine and called it a night. I'm sure that everyone would have understood and then the denizens at TMZ could have focused on some other victim. But until Ben finally learns this basic principle, expect these kinds of stories to continue, no matter how innocent the activities may have been.

People may justifiably cry "foul", but the next person who can get that picture of Big Ben doing something awkward or worse, being drunk with a woman, will be able to cash in big on that picture. The bottom-feeders know this and they won't be going away anytime soon.

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