Don’t call it coming to his defense.

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

Ouch.

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.

Meh.





68 Comments


  1. Miamihawks
    May 6, 2010 10:41 am

    Ben is and always was a creep even in his days at Miami. Not only has his tarnished the reputation of my beloved Steelers but also my alma mater Miami University. He had such potential to represent his team, city, and school and he screwed it up.



  2. VAgirl
    May 6, 2010 10:56 am

    I am waiting for the book.



  3. Der Burghermeister
    May 6, 2010 11:10 am

    @Erin Sid clearly prefers privacy, but there are stories of “do goods” by Sid in public. A friend of a friend (FoaF) story, but it goes something like this…

    Sid is quietly eating lunch at a Sewickly establishment. FoaF notices and decides to pay for Sid’s lunch quietly without bothering him. Waitress informs Sid who in turns gives a friendly TOTH to FoaF. Fast forward a month or so, and FoaF is eating at same place in Sewickly. To his surprise, when the meal ends the waitress informs him that Sid bought his lunch when he noticed him across the room. Now that’s someone who is genuinely a nice person…

    Anyhow, Sid doesn’t need to be a hero, just a good person and he will be forever cherished in the Burgh. I doubt the words cherish and Ben will ever be conjoined in a sentence around these parts…



  4. Kathy
    May 6, 2010 11:48 am

    #48 Scott: LOL! I couldn’t agree more!!



  5. Andi
    May 6, 2010 11:50 am

    I think Ben should live at Mario’s house, sequesterd from the young Lemieux girls, of course. Nathalie will MAKE him learn to respect women and Mario will teach him to be a gentleman and a humble sportsman. Knock some manners into that idiot!



  6. toni
    May 6, 2010 11:58 am

    No offense Virginia, but please don’t play the Pittsburghers only turning on him recently card, when our local news keeps things on the quiet to stay in the good graces of the Rooneys.

    The only reason this got played up was there was no way something this bit could not be news. If Sports Illustrated went too far in muckrakery then our local sources ( KDKA, PPG, etc) keep far too much under wrap about the scum side of our football players.

    I was getting ticked for awhile with Hines because it looked like he was whining about Ben too much until some of this crap FINALLY started coming to light. I’ll tell you what I’ve never saw in ANY of our local sources about Peezy calling Ben out but I bet they all know it happened.

    Sports Illustrated could have saved the gas milage and just turned on the radio to hear endless stories from the service sector who has seen boorish Ben upclose and personal.

    All Pro athletes at some time act boorishly…when it becomes chronic and when it becomes borderline questionably criminal THEN you report it and stop trying to smother the stories.

    And no Ginny, from what I heard from Pittsburghers coming out of the woodwork with their stories about Fugly, he was not loved by the Burghers…they didn’t just turn on him. It just cemented their feelings in place.



  7. Elmer Fudd
    May 6, 2010 12:10 pm

    When I was in EMS I had a front row seat to Domestic Abuse..Real men do not abuse women..



  8. Meghan
    May 6, 2010 12:26 pm

    I’m sure he’s an idiot. But a part of this stinks like Steelers backlash to me. I remember sitting next to a guy at a Super Bowl party & when the Steelers won, he said “I’m kind of getting sick of them now. I’m going to have to root for someone else.” I hate being in the position to have to defend a douche…



  9. Vivian formerly NY Luvs Pitts
    May 6, 2010 1:23 pm

    bucdaddy Says:
    May 5th, 2010 at 9:04 pm
    Carpetbagger Says:
    May 5th, 2010 at 4:46 pm
    Now if they would have put him in a swimsuit, THAT would have been news.

    Thanks for that image.

    *Pictures Ben in a Speedo. Retches violently.*

    —–
    OMG!!! ROTFLMBO!!!



  10. Matt
    May 6, 2010 1:25 pm

    A slightly different perspective. The article may have been unfair in some ways — standards of journalism have been slipping for years — but the angle was different from the usual coverage of misbehaving athletes: local rejection of the miscreants. For that voice, your blog is Ground Zero to outsiders, even though you cover lots of other stuff, too. Giving the interview probably wouldn’t adversely affect your chances of hanging out with Benny. I’d have leaned toward my standard definition of “good publicity,” i.e., anytime they spell your name correctly. But it’s a judgement call, and I understand your reasoning.



  11. Vivian formerly NY Luvs Pitts
    May 6, 2010 1:25 pm

    Whenever a Steeler makes the cover of SI I run out to get it. When I saw this one I was like…never mind. Now I’m glad I didn’t buy it.

    Thanks Ginny for taking the high road.



  12. stephanie
    May 6, 2010 6:35 pm

    after reading the other reminders about kdka’s sleaziness i can’t help but be reminded of the time david highfield showed people on the street the video of the beheading of nick berg in iraq and asked people for their reaction. my reaction? david highfield is the sleaziest douchebag “reporter” ever.



  13. oddmanout
    May 7, 2010 1:26 am

    I am with you, I refuse to pile on or feed into this. So he’s a jerk, it’s not like I am going to invite him to my house for dinner….This is a teaching moment, to get the message across to our children and friends that rude, borish, sleezy behavior by ANYONE is unacceptable! All one has to do is go into any of the bars and clubs in the strip or the southside on a weekend and you will see the exact same behavior……from men and from women….we ALL at some point are guilty of stupid behavior…..



  14. Amy
    May 7, 2010 11:17 am

    Just saw this follow up – too funny and love how they are trying to make his antics related to his head trauma:
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/david_epstein/05/05/ben.roethlisberger/index.html



  15. Matt
    May 7, 2010 1:56 pm

    I just read the full story. The following quote appeared: “A neighbor who lives near Roethlisberger in a tony section of Gibsonia, Pa.,. . . ”

    Now, I’ve been gone awhile. I grew up in Gibsonia in the 60s. This is the first time I have ever seen (or imagined) the words “tony” and “Gibsonia” appearing in the same sentence, uless it was a reference to the excellent mechanic who used to fix my ’66 Falcon at Rudolph’s gas station. I guess things have changed a little.



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  17. Deby
    May 7, 2010 3:30 pm

    I haven’t read all of these comments yet, but hope to be able to do so. At any rate…yay for you, Ginny, and not just for the SI pass, but also for saying what you did in your post. This is not, of course, to exonerate or excuse anything Ben may have done, but…who among us isn’t guilty of a little ugliness now and again? I believe that, through the course of this, I’ve heard it said that the Super Steelers of the 70s weren’t exactly angels, either, but there didn’t exist the 24/7 news coverage back then, not to mention things such as iPhones, Twitter, you take my point. Again – if he did sexually assault a – or several – women, then he’s not yet suffered enough for that. And nothing entitles him, or anyone else, to much of anything. But the great majority of folks guilty of “bad behavior” don’t have to contend with everyone they’ve ever met running to the press, either. Another thing that galls me is that those purported “friends” who spoke to SI were probably more than happy to travel, or club, or whatever, at Roethlisberger’s expense. Things have gotten too sensationalistic for a “stick to the facts” approach but, as you said, there are lines.



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