The “Roethlisberger” Rules and Why You Should Appreciate Him More

Ben RoethlisbergerEvery time someone in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ organization does something wrong outside of football, the inevitable comparison to their all-pro quarterback Ben Roethlisberger comes up and ignites a flurry of positive and negative reaction in the social media world.

Like the complete and total idiot I am, I always get sucked into it even though I tell myself to “just let it go.” The reason I can’t let it go is simple. I want to educate people and that’s only natural because that’s what I do for a living, not that this writing gig doesn’t pay the bills (rolls over in laughter).

Last week, Steelers’ Rookie running back Chris Rainey was arrested in Florida for what authorities said was an assault of his girlfriend over a cell phone. Within a couple of hours, the Steelers decided to part ways with Rainey because this wasn’t his first rodeo involving violence against women. He had an initial charge against him while attending Florida in which he threatened a woman.

Within minutes, the cracks and quips about him getting released and Roethlisberger being kept on the team after two incidents were flying faster than a Dennis Miller one-liner. What no longer surprises me is that many of the slams on Roethlisberger come from fans of the Steelers who continue to be embarrassed apparently by his past behavior.

Let me be straight-forward here. Ben Roethlisberger made poor choices. He put himself in less than positive circumstances and therefore opened himself up to the allegations that ensued. This is what we all need to understand though; Roethlisberger was never charged with a crime. He was never placed under arrest. He is guilty of poor-decision making and last I checked, that is not a crime.

If you think the Steelers standing by him in these instances has created a ‘double-standard’ in terms of dealing with off-field player issues then your absolutely correct. There is a double-standard with the franchise QB and why wouldn’t there be if you actually take the time to research the situations?

In one corner, you have a guy who has led the team to two Super Bowl wins in three tries and is the highest-paid player on the team. In the other, you have players like Cedrick Wilson, Alameda Ta’Amu and Chris Rainey for example who were all arrested and charged with crimes. Roethlisberger never fell into either of those categories. Ta’Amu is of course still on the roster, but that could change especially if he has to go to jail for his actions.

If you don’t think Roethlisberger has suffered because of the incidents then you don’t pay attention very well. While Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Robert Griffin III appear in commercial after commercial, there is no sign of Roethlisberger. While part of that is due to advertisers clearly staying away, there is also a clear move by Roethlisberger himself to stay out of the public eye as much as possible.

He’s also suffered in the organization too. It was clear that team president Art Rooney II was not happy with his play which of course led to the ‘tweak’ comment and the “retirement” of his friend and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians last off-season. Franchise quarterbacks don’t usually get told to do such things and aren’t exactly tossed under the bus by their owners either. So to say that he hasn’t suffered from poor decisions and alleged misconduct wouldn’t be correct or fair.

Let’s also not forget that Roethlisberger was made the poster-child of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s “protect the shield” campaign when he hit the QB with a four-week suspension to start the 2010 season. He was given a larger suspension than players like Cedric Benson who received three games for assault. Aaron Berry of the Lions received a three game suspension when he was arrested twice in a year and Kenny Britt who was given just one game for various incidents with police.

You’ll notice all three of those examples were arrested AND charged yet received lesser suspensions than a franchise QB.

What Steelers’ fans need to understand is that what they have already witnessed for nine years and hopefully five or six more, is a rarity in this league. A franchise QB does not grow on trees and for those who consistently bash Roethlisberger for one thing or another will be reminded of names like Kent Graham, Cliff Stoudt, David Woodley or Mark Malone.

I do not condone violence against women in any way, shape or form. Because I believe Roethlisberger to be guilty of nothing more than making poor choices should not be taken as an endorsement that I’m giving him a ‘pass.’ What I also don’t condone however, is making someone guilty in a court of public opinion which millions of people have done in this situation.

Yes, there is a double-standard in Pittsburgh and no, you don’t have to like it. What you have to understand is that some day, there will be an appreciation of Roethlisberger much greater than there currently is when journeymen QBs are coming in and out of Pittsburgh with lightning speed and the team is struggling to compete.

Perhaps then, people will realize just what they have in Ben Roethlisberger.

Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.


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15 comments on “The “Roethlisberger” Rules and Why You Should Appreciate Him More

  1. I clearly see the difference between “charged” and “accused”. BUT, Ben was accused TWICE…..the first one appeared to be a gold-digger situation and I wrote it off. The second…..well, clearly didn’t rise to the level of a chargeable offense….but the Franchise QB of the 6 time Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers getting sexual favors in a public restroom with a drunk women under 21 deserves condemnation from the League, the Team and Steelers Nation. Clearly he was using his status to secure “benefits” from inebriated women…..and not in the privacy of his hotel or home, BUT IN PUBLIC! The sting of this embarrassment to the fans of the Black and Gold is felt still. I for one sold my autographed jerseys and rookie cards, cuz I could not explain away why I would keep his memorabilia when his actions went against everything I was trying to instill into my impressionable teenage stepsons.

    Tremendous on-field skill set? No doubt. Off-field persona? Less than admirable. I am hoping he has turned the corner now that he is married and has a child…….but who cares if he is “feeling bad” or “suffered”. He sullied the reputation of a storied franchise and the fans still have to deal with the consequences of his poor decisions. I was a fan before Ben was born….players come and go, even the great ones. But the Franchise means a lot to me and I take his poor decisions seriously……I choose to “idolize” the other great ones that played the game with excellence and tried to live their lives within the boundaries of polite society…..not as drunken, sexual predators. I will cheer his play on the field, but just assume never hear about his off-season life…the quieter the better as far as I’m concerned.

    • Thanks for reading Jeff. I think your comments are very representative of the way many in the Steeler Nation feel. I totally agree that the franchise is the most important thing and is far more important than any single player. Like you, I’ve been a fan for a long time and I don’t mean to sound dismissive of Roethlisberger’s behavior because I don’t like it or the way it looks to the franchise. My point is that he made poor choices and was one of many entitled, young athletes who have made similar poor decisions. As far as suffering, that can be taken either way. Ben knows what he has done and has to live with it whether we’ll ever know all the details or not. What he’ll never get back is the ability to be a true franchise QB because he’s given up much of that right. I just wonder how long must he do so and I don’t have that answer.

  2. One of the reasons that I feel like it is a double standard has nothing to do with charges, full disclosure I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and I think Ben Roethlisberger is a good quarterback. One of the double standards that I’ve noticed is sports media cover. White athletes that get in trouble are treated completely different than black athletes. Example a black athlete gets into a fight in an emotional sporting event he is called a thug and immediately attacked on sports talk radio. A white athlete gets into a fight he’s called passionate and just showing love for the game. Look at the difference how Mark McGwire was covered compared to Barry or any coverage that Brett Favre got his entire career.

    • Thanks for reading TQB. I agree that there is still tremendous bias in sports but I think it goes both ways. In the case of Roethlisberger, it was the perfect opportunity for Goodell to smack a prominent white athlete from a team whose ownership pushed Goodell into the commissioner’s job. If you look across the league at examples of inappropriate behavior from players, there is no question that Roethlisberger was slapped harder than any of them and I believe that was intentional.

      We have a long ways to go yet in race relations and understanding each other for sure. There is still significant bias against blacks, whites and latinos depending upon the sport.

  3. I look at who is Ben now. Has he changed? Yup. Is he a different and better man? Yup. Has he stayed on the straight and narrow? Yup. Ben got a second chance and made good with it. The past is the past. He has moved on and so have I.

  4. OMG why are we rehashing this again, Give the man a break, He has turned his life around been on the straight and narrow for quite a while now. Rather than continue to judge him and criticize his choice how about some praise for his positive choices he makes now. His foundation does wonderful things for local police depts in every city he plays in . I for one am soooo proud to have Ben as my QB and so grateful for all he has done for Pittsburgh and my team .All of you know he has taken ridiculous hits over and over and over on and off the field to prove that he is worthy and in my eyes the toughest QB in the NFL and I wouldnt trade him for the world and when he is gone , everyone will be wishing we had another like him. so stop judging the man and move on!!!

    • Thanks for reading Linda. Hopefully you could tell in my article that I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be re-hashing the subject either, but it angers me that every time a player gets in trouble with the law, Ben’s name inevitably comes up. I was hopefully making the exact point you made in that when he is finally done playing perhaps then more Steelers’ fans will appreciate him.

  5. Short and sweet. “Give the man a break, He has turned his life around been on the straight and narrow for quite a while now”, “Has he changed? Yup. Is he a different and better man? Yup. Has he stayed on the straight and narrow? ”

    The same fans that make these comments, are the fans that with ANY mention of one arguably the best linebackers/athletes in the history of the NFL’s name is mention – YES RAY LEWIS. Respond with he is a murderer/thug.

    Every Steeler fan is holier than thou, when it come to Ben, but they want to crucify Ray Lewis.

    One more thing, to blame a rape victim for getting raped. Is sick. “the first one appeared to be a gold-digger situation and I wrote it off”

    • Thanks for reading Mike. We as people are far too quick to either judge or forgive. I don’t know what happened in Ray Lewis’ situation anymore than I do in Ben’s but I know the difference legally. No where in my article did I blame the victim either. That would be wrong and irresponsible. Not sure where that came from. Both Roethlisberger and Lewis were guilty of poor decision-making which perhaps is why they are good friends.

  6. My god fierceblues, millions of americans get drunk and pick up members of the opposite sex in bars all the time. Usually both are drunk. I myself, have found myself not too proud of the very heavy women I’ve woken up next too. I wonder what we would find if we pried into your life, and found out your skeletons and judged you on them! We all have skeletons. I hate people who expect people in the public eye to feel shame for there bad choices, while all the while, hide their own! Ben is my HERO and will be for a long time to come! HYPOCRITES! I appreciate you BEN & thank god your a STEELER!!!!!!!!!!

    • BRAVO DAVID BRAVO.. freaking hypocrites. We are soooooooooooo lucky to have him as our awesome QB. those who dont like him or judge him can go by a purple or orange jersey TOMORROW!!!

  7. I don’t care for #7; he’s too arroganct, clearly has no respect for others (young females), one of the girls could have been either of our daughters. I wonder what you all would have said then; his style of play has gotten old too. To be honest with you, sometimes he acts like a spoil bratt. And by the way, somebody needs to train him on Public Relations; he is the face of the Franchise you know. He needs to show some gratitude for the way The Rooney’s put up with his A$$ over the years.

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