For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Luke 14:11)
You may have heard Ben Roethlisberger made his triumphant return to Heinz Field this past Sunday. What you may not have heard about was the group outside the stadium protesting his return. The reason you didn’t hear about this band of tree-hugging imbeciles is because their outrage enticed a grand total of twenty people into action. The often-mocked PNC Park walkout a few years ago got about 100 people to join.
Yes, more people protested the Pirates stinking for eighteen years than cared about Ben’s off-season shenanigans. Then again, at least Pirate fans have a legitimate reason to be upset.
I have no problem with standing up for what you believe in but take a gander at those buffoons. Covering your face with gold bandannas? Are they protesting sexual assault or robbing a bank? Granted most of them probably have good reason to conceal their facial features but dressing up like dime store homages to Sub-Zero doesn’t exactly help people take you seriously. Besides, that picture already pretty much confirms any suspicion that they’re out protesting Ben’s sexual activities because they are incapable of having any themselves.
These “protesters” were kids dressing up early for Halloween, right? I mean, this had to be a joke because nobody who honestly cared about their cause would make such a mockery of it.
I’m extremely passionate about the Pittsburgh Steelers. All my life, I’ve been proud to say I’m a Steeler fan. For those of us born and raised in Pittsburgh, the Black and Gold are more than just a team. They represent our city and we want them to represent it well. We don’t embrace jerks, showboaters, or thugs. We’re the gold standard of the NFL.
So when the Ben story first broke, I was upset. And I lashed out. I was far from the only one. Local television stations ran polls showing over 50% of the viewers wanted Ben cut immediately. Steelers owner Dan Rooney admitted in a recent ESPN interview that he was “furious” when he first heard the news. It’s human nature to be angry when somebody or something you put great faith in disappoints you.
It’s been over six months since That Night In Milledgeville. I’ve had time to calm down and objectively look at the facts. And the only objective conclusion one can reach is that there is absolutely no concrete proof Ben did anything illegal. Was his behavior ideal? It certainly wasn’t. But I would hardly call an underage girl following a man she didn’t know from bar to bar while drinking herself into a drunken horny stupor beyond reproach. Blame for irresponsible behavior belongs to EVERYBODY involved in this sordid affair. And as the Georgia D.A. said when he announced Ben would not face charges, “We prosecute crimes, not morals.”
Too bad Roger Goodell doesn’t follow that same standard when handing out his ridiculous and arbitrary suspensions. How’s that Brett Favre investigation coming along, Ginger Dictator?
What aggravates me about the Big Ben situation is people want to make it a black and white issue when the world is full of shades of gray. Everybody wants to paint me in a corner by saying, “He’s a Ben hater.” or “You support a rapist.” Fans from other cities insult Steeler Nation for cheering Ben, not understanding that forgiveness does not mean condonation. These goofy protesters hear the accusations and immediately break out their crayons and magic markers to make up their stupid little signs.
Intelligent people listen to all sides of an issue and adjust their opinions accordingly. The greatest sign of ignorance is refusing to change your beliefs despite clear and compelling evidence to the contrary.
Has Ben made mistakes? He sure has. Has he been a jerk towards people? Yes, he has. Has his arrogance alienated teammates? Most definitely. Even though some Steeler fans refused to believe it, I’ve criticized him for all these things in the past because I tell it like it is. In recent interviews, Ben himself has owned up to behaving in a less than desirable way and acknowledged he would strive to be a better person in the future.
However, does this make him guilty of the allegations down in Georgia? No, it does not. The case was investigated and dropped. End of story.
I admit, I’m rooting for Ben. Not Big Ben the Super Bowl winning quarterback. I’m rooting for Ben Roethlisberger the person. I have faith that he’ll grow into a positive role model, a good citizen, and a respected member of the community. Ben was placed on a pedestal by a great many people and the resulting arrogance very nearly cost him everything. Listening to his recent interviews with Bill Cowher and Merril Hoge, I believe this experience has left Ben a humbled man and through that humility he has found the moral compass he once lacked. And for that we should offer support, not scorn.
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