In light of his recent troubles with not only the law, but also with the Steelers management, the NFL commissioner, and yes, us, the fans, the Duke of Fug and the Earl of Gross, Ben Roethlisberger is the subject of a tell-all Sports Illustrated article in which he is basically Kitty Kellyed.
Now, before I tell you what is contained in the article and what I think about the article, I need to give full disclosure here. I was contacted by Sports Illustrated about an interview for that particular article. I did consider giving the interview and I even set up a tentative time to meet with one of the writers, who spent almost a whole week in Pittsburgh getting the story straight from Burghers. I backed out when the writer contacted me to confirm a time, and the reason I backed out was as simple as this: a gut feeling. I worried the article would be too negative and I didn’t like the idea of my name appearing in it. My opinions on Benny are well known by my readers and it didn’t seem like there is anything positive about me rehashing those opinions to a national magazine. And what if Benny really sexually assaulted this woman? Then I’m using a horrible situation to advance my own name? No thank you very much to that zooming Karma Boomerang.
Long story short, I said, “No thanks,” and the writer could not have been more understanding.
Having said that, whew! Bullet, dodged.
AN NFL SUPERSTAR’S REPULSIVE BEHAVIOR, THE ULTIMATE EXPRESSION OF ATHLETIC ENTITLEMENT RUN AMOK, HAS FORCED EVEN THE MOST DIEHARD FANS TO QUESTION THEIR TEAM AND THEIR FOOTBALL FAITH—AND MADE A SMALL TOWN IN GEORGIA WISH HE’D NEVER PAID A VISIT
The article’s most juicy bits are made up of he said/she said stories, second-hand accounts, and muck-raking details.
Here’s a few:
- Rumors of a video taken by KDKA showing Benny on a motorcycle, helmet-less, AFTER his accident and recovery, and Benny flipping them the finger as he drives away. KDKA higher uppers deny the existence of a video, but SI has nameless witnesses claiming they’ve seen it. Personally, I believe it exists. But that’s just an opinion. No facts in this here bullet point.
- “All my bitches, take my shots.” We knew this one.
- Benny leaving waitresses with tabs, forcing them to chase him down.
- Benny asking a pregnant woman if her “boyfriend forgot to pull out.” Geez oh man.
- Benny’s friends shaking their heads at Benny for his behavior both in bars and clubs and, also, on the frickin’ pickup basketball court. Some friends.
- He’s banned from the Cabana Bar (never heard of it) for repeatedly demanding free entry.
Is Ben Roethlisberger an asshole? By all accounts, hell yes. Has he been a pretty lousy human being with a distorted sense of entitlement for some years now? Oh, heck yes. Is he a douche? Apparently! Do I want him traded away? Golly gee, I do! Makes bad decisions? Yep! Treats women like crap sometimes? Yep!
I’ll be the first to point out his shortcomings, and, well, I have this here blog that does just that on occasion, but there’s a line and this article crossed the line from journalism to muck-raking. It went from a biography of a faulted man to a tell-all, leave-no-stone-unturned piece of garbage designed to do one thing and one thing only: kick Benny enough while he’s down to sell some magazines.
I have ragged on Benny for years for his sloppy appearance, his football lows, and his personal behavior, but I have never printed one single rumor I’ve heard about his behavior and guys, I have heard and been emailed quite a few. Sure there are consequences to poor choices and it seems okay to talk about them and say, “Whoa! You are making it hard to root for you.” But this article went beyond that and into territory usually reserved for politicians out to find every bad thing they can about an opponent. It doesn’t make it right, but really, how many NFL players are guilty of being jerks? I bet if I walked around Indianapolis long enough, I can find some people willing to tell me about the time that Peyton Manning guy was a real jerkwad to a waitress or a fan. It’s just in Benny’s case, they get to pair those stories with all of his recent problems and label him as “repulsive” for it.
It doesn’t make Benny’s behavior right, but it also doesn’t make this article anything more than tabloid-caliber sensationalism.
Benny has made horrible choices (hiya, mullethawkenberger) and he is facing the consequences for those choices. He’s lost the respect of a majority of this city. He’s got a majority wanting him traded away, if polls are to be believed. He’s got me really wishing he wasn’t a Steeler anymore just so we can stop dealing with the never-ending fallout of his behavior and shortcomings. He’s suspended for six games. He’s going through behavioral counseling. His “friends” are blabbing his on-court antics to national magazines. His jerseys might as well be tainted with Ebola, no one wants to touch them. I’m sure he is suffering for his mistakes and hopefully that will be the rock bottom he, by all accounts, needed to hit.
It’s Benny’s own fault he’s even looking at rock bottom, but Sports Illustrated is down there with him, mired in muck.
And with that line, I pretty much have destroyed any chance of ever being asked to interview with Sports Illustrated again, not even when I win my Olympic curling medal.