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.