The irony is once upon a time we were all so taken with
But alas, first impressions don't always stand the test of time. The just-turned-28-year-old Roethlisberger we contemplate today isn't being celebrated much any more for his unique blend of on-field maturity, wisdom and judgment. Instead, we're questioning who he is as a person away from football, what's in his character, and what he might be capable of doing when his behavior is at its worst.
We don't know if Roethlisberger is guilty of committing sexual assault, as he now has been accused of for a second time in less than nine months. Short of any proof, this is the part of the story where I'm obligated to talk about due process running its course, the concept of innocent until proven guilty, and warn about the dangers of rushing to judgment against a person who has not been charged with any crime in either case.
But with that out of the way, here's what I think we do know about Roethlisberger at this point: At the very least, he's starting to look very guilty of serial bad judgment. He doesn't seem to know what's good for him, and he clearly doesn't respect the notion that there are boundaries of where he should be, when he should be there, and who he should be with.
It doesn't take a DNA test to know that Roethlisberger is young, single and likes to party. None of that is against the law, and didn't we all help make a late-night legend out of another rust-belt-born quarterback,
If I'm Roethlisberger, who's still facing last year's civil suit alleging he sexually assaulted a Lake Tahoe, Nev., casino hostess in the summer of 2008, that means I'm swearing off hanging out in college-town bars until 2 a.m., making the frat-boy rounds with my entourage. Engaging groups of college-age women while out partying isn't helpful either. Quite a sacrifice, I know, but, hey, there is a pretty fair career to think of in this case. Not to mention a reputation that is rapidly approaching the state of being irreparably damaged.
You might think that every pro athlete in this day and age watched the self-destructive
I don't know exactly when a pattern of behavior shows itself to the point of becoming obvious, but I think by now it's safe to say Roethlisberger either doesn't get it or doesn't care. You think it can't all go away pretty quickly in a hail of bad decision-making, Ben? Talk to
If NFL commissioner
When you add Roethlisberger's 2006 helmet-less motorcycle accident into the mix of questionable decision-making, this is the third offseason in five years the Pittsburgh quarterback has made the wrong kind of headlines and given us reason to question his thinking, his actions, or both. That's at least twice too many for any player, but particularly for one who carries the mantle of franchise quarterback for one of the most successful and beloved organizations in the NFL.
Whether he likes it or not, Roethlisberger is the face of the Steelers franchise. And these days, that face is not a very attractive one for Pittsburgh to put out there front and center. Some might say the captain's "C'' on his jersey now stands for "cad.'' In a statement Monday, Steelers president
The problem is, the Steelers can't monitor Roethlisberger as closely as they need to, even though they shouldn't have to. He's apparently going to keep playing by his own rules, and going wherever he pleases, until he perhaps learns his lesson the hard way. And if he thinks it can't happen, it almost assuredly will.
As it turns out, maybe all that acclaim and success so early in his NFL career, the 14-1 rookie year and two Super Bowl rings in his first five seasons, served to make Roethlisberger believe he's bullet-proof. He wouldn't be the first star athlete to think the rules didn't apply, and to find out only too late that some of them most definitely do.
Roethlisberger's maturity level has again caught our attention and made us notice him anew. The twist this time is that his on-field judgment and responsibility has now been overshadowed by his off-field recklessness and lack of foresight. The lesson here seems simple, Ben: Sometimes trouble finds you. Sometimes you find the trouble. Either way, it's trouble all the same.