PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – I don’t get it.
If you want to dredge up the past with Ben Roethlisberger, just flat out do it.
If you want to say he’s a changed man, just flat-out do it.
But, please — as is the case with a recent piece on the Steelers’ quarterback — don’t try to intermingle the past and present unless you intend to be 100 percent fair.
In my estimation, Roethlisberger was blindsided by a hit piece in the most recent edition of Sports Illustrated. It’s garbage, it’s rubbish and it’s an aimless manuscript without a clearly defined destination.
It just, well, attempts to make Ben look bad.
The piece — written by the highly acclaimed S.L. Price — documents how Big Ben will push these Steelers into the playoffs on a hot streak and how there have been no recent transgressions off the field, but how the author isn’t sure if Roethlisberger is still chasing maturity or redemption.
What purpose does bringing up Tahoe or Milledgeville have now and what bearing does it have on someone who has seemingly matured and advanced far beyond those alleged indiscretions?
And if you don’t think Roethlisberger has matured and become a better man than he was almost a decade ago, you are living under a mountain of rocks.
The biggest hole in the piece is that it is built on a false foundation, as the following graph seems to serve as the basis for what everything is built upon:
“With the retirements of Ray Lewis and Kobe Bryant, the 34-year-old Roethlisberger is American sports’ most prominent polarizer, his number 7 as provocative as a question mark.”
Tiger Woods is certainly a more polarizing sports figure than Roethlisberger right now.
So is Ronda Rousey.
So is Bryce Harper.
So are Floyd Mayweather and Roy Jones, Jr.
There is also LeBron James.
How about Nick Saban?
Am I missing anyone? And those are just the non-NFL players. Remember, S.L. Price wrote “American sports’ most prominent polarizer …”
One would think NFL players Tom Brady, Colin Kaepernick, Vontaze Burfict, Cam Newton, Richard Sherman, Tony Romo and Odell Beckham, Jr. are just a few more polarizing than Roethlisberger.
Remember, this is 2017, not 2010 and Price was alluding to the present polarizers.
In that vein, in a way can’t you make a case that Roethlisberger isn’t even the most polarizing member of his own organization right now?
One could make a strong case for Antonio Brown, who seems to draw the adoration of so many for his play but also admonishment from numerous fans for his ostentatious way of conducting his boomin’ business.
Couldn’t you say Le’Veon Bell is more polarizing than Ben? He’s the guy who might be the best running back in the NFL but has a penchant for getting himself jammed up and suspended, as he did at the beginning of this season.
Or, you could even make a case that right now Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is more polarizing than his standout quarterback. After all, it was Tomlin who engaged in a very public verbal ping-pong match with Terry Bradshaw and (rightly so) defended his honor when Bradshaw called him a “cheerleader” recently. I vehemently defended Tomlin, but so many have said he should have taken the high road — that appears to be pretty damn polarizing to me.
While Roethlisberger might still be polarizing, there is just no way he’s more polarizing than everyone else in sports.
It simply isn’t the case.
Perhaps the craziest part about the puzzling Sports Illustrated piece is that someone who is among the finest sportswriters in this country authored it. It seems much closer to fact than opinion that S. L. Price, who wrote this Roethlisberger piece, is one of the brightest people exercising their craft in America. He normally hits out-of-the-stadium home runs, as he did with the recent book ‘Playing Through the Whistle’ that documents Aliquippa’s idolization of football and hard times realized by the collapse of the steel industry.
In my opinion, Price didn’t just uncharacteristically swing and miss on this Roethlisberger piece, but got no-hit and never fouled a pitch off. In sum, it just didn’t make much sense.
It was a hit piece on Ben, an unfair hit piece on Ben.
If you want to document his past, go ahead and do it — and leave it at that.
But right now, Ben Roethlisberger isn’t chasing anything anymore.
The man has changed.
The man has matured.
The man has grown leaps and bounds.
That is the story with Ben Roethlisberger — that he’s grown into an incredible leader for his franchise.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.