One Last Time On Ben

After spending most of the past two days responding to the response to my original post about Ben Roethlisberger, it’s time to clear up some things.

1. I did not accuse Roethlisberger of being high on drugs. I pointed out that there were many references made to the fact that he did not appear to have been drinking a lot on the night in question.

The implication, or at least my inference, was that those accounts were being used to bolster the contention that he didn’t misbehave. I simply pointed out that there are other ways to get high, meaning that his alcohol consumption or lack of same, was irrelevant to his innocence or guilt.

I also asked if you would be surprised to find out that he was high on something else. Would you?

That’s not an accusation. It’s a question. Why would anybody NOT consider the possibility of drug use when trying to explain the kind of behavior that Roethlisberger is ACCUSED of?

2. I did not accuse Ben of blowing off a Make-A-Wish kid. I began my post by making the observation that I had never seen a local athlete generate so many “What’s wrong with this guy” questions. I ended the post by giving an example of one of the many, many negative stories I had been told about the guy.

I said that a woman emailed me with a story about Roethlisberger blowing off a Make-A-Wish kid. I said that I was later put in touch with a woman claiming to be the kid’s mother and she said the story was true.

I also pointed out that KDKA’s news director quashed the story and made it clear that he didn’t want it to be investigated further. I did not accuse Ben of blowing off the kid. I just told you about someone who claimed that he did.

This is a blog. I’ll be posting stories from people about lots of things. I’ll post them. You take them for what they’re worth. If over time, you notice a lack of credibility, stop visiting. It’s not complicated.

This ain’t the New York Times.

Oh, wait. That’s probably a good thing, considering their recent track record.

HIGH ANXIETY

OK, let’s clear something up. I’ve been accused of accusing Ben Roethlisberger of being high on something else the night that he had his encounter with the 20 year old college kid.

I was responding to eyewitness accounts that I read and heard that said that Ben did not appear to be drinking much that night. Many of those comments were made with the implication that the accusation had less cedibility because he was probably in complete control of himself.

I only pointed out that a person, any person, can be high without drinking. Let’s say that Ben wasn’t accused of a serious crime but, instead, was seen in a bar walking across tables with a lampshade on his head and somebody said, “I didn’t see him take one drink.”

Wouldn’t your next thought be, “Geez, I wonder what he was high on”? That wouldn’t be an accusation. It would be considering another possible cause for a person’s erratic behavior. Ben may have done nothing wrong that night and he may have been sober as a judge. But if  he did lose control and commit a crminal act and evidence suggests that he wasn’t drunk, isn’t the next logical question, could he have been high on something else that might have caused him to do something so stupid?

I’m not discounting the possibility that Roethlisberger is innocent in both cases where he has been accused of sexual assault, but I’m not discounting his guilt, either.

And if he is guilty in both insatnces, wouldn’t that be a sign of a guy who is out of control?

And if a guy shows an inability to control himself, why would anyone in this day and age stop at alcohol when speculating on what might be causing the erratic behavior?

Just Watch the Game Blog

This is my first posting on the JUST WATCH THE GAME blog. The plan here is to blog at least once a day and probably several times a day. JUST WATCH THE GAME is the title of the book that I’ll be releasing in a few months and you’ll be able to read excerpts at justwatchthegame.com.
I guess I should get my two cents in on Ben Roethlisberger:
First of all, none of this surprises me. Ben is a bad citizen. He doesn’t know how to treat people and he definitely doesn’t know how to handle being the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers. In my more than 30 years of working in the Pittsburgh sports media, I have never had any player come close to generating as many unsolicited questions from fans as Roethlisberger has. They want to know why he’s such a jackass. And these aren’t just Steelers fans who got turned down for an autograph. It’s men and women from all walks of life.
Most of the accounts of the incident in Georgial mention that Ben wasn’t drinking much. The implication being that he wasn’t high. Let me be the first to point out that he could very easily have been high on something other than alcohol. If that turns out to be the case, will you be surprised?
If this jackass is charged with sexual assault, the NFL should immediately suspend him for several games next season. If the league doesn’t, the Steelers should. We hear all the time about how the Rooney family does things differently. This is a chance to prove it. It’s one thing to suspend or cut a third receiver or a backup lineman. Suspending a $100 million quarterback would really set the Rooneys apart.
Roethlisberger is a punk who needs to be knocked down a peg or two.
A couple of years ago I heard from a woman who said that Roethlisberger blew off a Make-A-Wish kid. When KDKA-TVs News Director, John Verrilli, was shown the email, he made it clear that it was a story that his news department would not be pursuing. I eventually got in contact with the parents of the little girl who the jackass snubbed. They said the story was true but they didn’t want to go public with it for their daughter’s sake. The little girl had cystic fibrosis.
As I said, Bad citizen who needs a comeuppance.

Roethlisberger Again

Whoops. I’m new at this blogging thing and I just realized that I sent my first two posts about Ben Roethlisberger to the trash by mistake and instead of trying to retrieve them, I decided to just combine what I said in one post.

My first point is that none of this stuff surprises me. I’ve been covering sports in Pittsburgh since 1977 and I have never come across a player who generated so many unsolicited “hey why is this guy such a jackass” questions. I can’t remember a player who generated 1/10 as many of those kinds of questions.

There are a ridiculous number of stories around town about Roethlisberger refusing to pay his tab in clubs and restaurants and just generally being a jackass to people that he meets. I recounted the story of the email that I got from a woman who claimed Ben blew off a Make-A-Wish kid.

The woman was working in the hotel where the Make-A-Wish family was staying and she saw the girl crying hysterically. She was told that the girl had been promised a meeting with Roethlisberger and he was a no-show. The woman said in her email that KDKA should stop treating Ben like a hero and make her story public.

I told her that I couldn’t do that just based on her email. We eventually spoke by phone and she put me in contact with the Make-A-Wish family. A woman claiming to be the little girl’s mother verified the story in an email, but said she didn’t want to go public with it because she wanted to spare her daughter the public trauma.

Now, both of these women could have been involved in some kind of conspiracy and I was duped, but I don’t think so. When the emails were shown to KDKA-TV’s News Director, he made it clear that the news department wouldn’t be looking into it any further. He made it clear that he wouldn’t touch the story with a 10 foot pole. So,I couldn’t go on the air with it.

I was reluctant to mention the story in my column because newspapers are a lot more strict about sourcing etc. With all the stuff hitting the fan about Ben, I decided to lay the story out there on the first post on my brand new website. I looked at it as just one more story about Ben being a jackass to add to the thousands of similar stories already on the blogosphere.

My attitude is, this is a blog and I’ll tell you exactly what I heard and how I heard it and you can judge for yourself. Personally, I believe the story. The reaction here was unbelievable. I had hoped to get a few responses after I mentioned the site on the 93.7 The Fan Wednesday and Bob Smizik plugged the site on his Post Gazette blog yesterday. You can see by the number of responses that it became a runaway freight train.

I’ve had people tell me that they’re talking about my post in Chicago and Florida and last night I got a request to go on Sirius Mad Dog Radio. I’ll be on tonight at 9. To sum up my original thoughts. Ben Roethlisberger is a great quarterback and a Bad Citizen. He’s also a punk.

If he is charged with sexual assault he has to be treated as harshly as Mike Vick was and be suspended indefinitely. If the NFL doesn’t suspend him, the Steelers should. If the Rooney family wants to live up to its image of running the NFL’s model franchise and not tolerating bad citizens, they should release him. These are all big ifs, but IF Ben’s charged, and he doesn’t go, the Rooney’s lose their claim to the high ground.

Big Ben Bonanza

3/12.10 11:30 A.M.
Wow. I never expected this kind of a response on the first day. I had hoped to get 10 or 12 visitors. You can see by the comments that I got bombarded with responses to my two posts. I have to thank Bob Smizik of the Post-Gazette for giving the site a plug yesterday. I still think Bob’s the most readable columnist in town, even though he’s not in the paper. You should check his blog every day:
http://community.post-gazette.com/blogs/bobsmizik/default.aspx

I think what caught everyone’s attention and caused my post to get quite a bit of play around the country was the reference to Roethlisberger blowing off a Make-A-Wish kid.
I can’t tell you the exact date and I’m not even sure about the year. It was about three years ago. I got an email from a woman who told me that KDKA should stop treating Roethlisberger like a hero and start reporting the truth about him. She told me that worked at a local hotel and met the family of a young girl who had come to town to be granted her wish by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They had come back from the Steelers facility on the South Side and the little girl was crying because Ben Roethlisberger had not shown up as promised. The girl got to meet several Steelers after practice and the family appreciated that but the girl was still upset about being stood up by Ben. I explained to the woman that I couldn’t go on the air with story like that based on her email. Eventually we spoke on the phone and she went into more detail about what a terrible experience it was for this little girl with cystic fibrosis. The email that she sent me was seen by several members of the Pittsburgh sports media. When the email was shown to KDKA-TV’s news director, he made it clear that he wasn’t interested in touching the story with a 10 foot pole. I told the woman who had contacted me that I needed to hear it from the parents themselves and I said that, if what she said was true, it really needed to be made public. Not long after that, I received an email from a woman claiming to be the girl’s mother. She backed up everything that the woman from the hotel had said but she said she didn’t want to go public with it in deference to her daughter. That’s as far as the story went. Most of the local sports media are aware of the story. I couldn’t make the story public when I was at KDKA because we would have needed the parents to go on camera and because station management wasn’t interested in pursuing it. I also didn’t feel comfortable telling the story in my newspaper columns because of the parents’ reluctance to go public. I didn’t have a blog until yesterday and blogs are different. I feel like I can post a story on a blog with the idea that the reader can take it for what it’s worth. My post was just one more story in an avalanche of stories about what a jackass Ben Roethlisberger is. Maybe the woman who worked in the hotel made the story up and then found someone in Ohio to go along with the scam by sending me an email. I guess that’s a possibility. Based on what I’ve seen from Roethlisberger the last few years, I believe the story to be true. I didn’t post the story because I expected to create a media firestorm and generate lots of traffic to this site. In light of everything that was coming out about Roethlisberger, I just felt the time and place were right to finally tell the story,

Robert Morris goes to NCAA tournament

3.11.10   11:05 a.m.

Today is a big day in the lives of the guys on the Robert Morris basketball team. They’re going to the NCAA tournament. They got the automatic bid by beating Quinnipiac for the Northeast Conference title last night. They should be happy and proud and I don’t want to be a party pooper, but, I don’t think they should be going.

There will be at least 32 teams that I don’t think belong in the tournament. I’m sure you’ve seen the ridiculous numbers that show what an exercise in futility it is for a team like RMU to go to the tournament as a 15th or 16th seed. They’re celebrating the fact that they’re going to be cannon fodder. RMU’s going to play one game.

Wouldn’t it be more fun for the players to play in a tournament that they might have a chance to win? Teams like RMU that play in second and third tier conferences should be playing in a 32 team tournament that could result in a national championship.

Sorry, but I’ve just never bought into the heartwarming stories about the Robert Morrises of the world who are getting that once in a lifetime chance to dance on the big stage. There will be a close game or two and there may even be a huge upset by a 15 or 16 seed, but most of the games are boring blowouts.

Teams like RMU playing each other would provide more good basketball than what we’ll be getting from the 64 team tournament. I’ll never understand how leading a player to slaughter qualifies as doing him a favor.