A Pittsburgh perspective: What should happen to Big Ben?
I write this as someone who was raised about 15 miles from Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. I grew up there in the 1970s when the Steelers were winning four Super Bowls. My favorite bedtime story was the Immaculate Reception. My blankie was a Terrible Towel. I had an official Jack Ham No. 59 jersey and a Mean Joe Greene poster on my wall. On Sundays at my house, dinner was served depending on the starting time of the Steelers' game. If they played at 1 o'clock, we ate at 5. If they played at 4 o'clock, we ate at noon.
I haven't lived in Pittsburgh since 1982 and, after spending the past 26 years as a sportswriter, I've lost most of my team allegiances. Still, I have a soft spot for the Steelers and while I'm no longer a diehard, I suspect I feel the same as most Steelers fans. I'm furious with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for embarrassing himself and the Steelers organization by acting like a creep from Las Vegas to Georgia. Other stories are starting to filter out that Roethlisberger has a history of behaving like a drunken frat boy. It's one thing to act like you're pledging Animal House when you're 19 years old. It's another to be a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback at age 28 and carrying on with a co-ed in the dirty bathroom of some college dive bar.
Speaking as someone who still has that Jack Ham jersey, I hope the Steelers kick Roethlisberger out the door. Cut him. Trade him. Whatever. Just get rid of him. The two Super Bowls the Steelers won with Roethlisberger seem cheapened now. Any future victories with Roethlisberger at quarterback would seem hollow. I'm not so naive to think Roethlisberger is the only NFL player who behaves like a horse's rear, but what other players in other organizations do doesn't matter. What makes Steelers fans so proud is not that the Steelers win so often, but that they win the right way. They win with class. They win with good people. The Rooney family has spent nearly 80 years building the Steelers into a model franchise and some boorish slob has spent the past couple of years trying to tear it all down.
I'd rather lose with another quarterback than win with Roethlisberger. At least then, I would be able to wave my Terrible Towel instead of using it to hide my face.