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April 19, 2010

The Curious Case of Benjamin Roethlisberger

Tags: ben roethlisberger, football, nfl, pittsburgh steelers, , Sports

From book to movie to...NFL?

Box office numbers and award nominations don’t lie.  My guess is that you probably saw “The Curious Case of Benjamin  Button” in the theaters a few years back.  Terrific adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald (he wrote “The Great Gatsby!”) short story, featuring Brad Pitt as a man born old and progressively gets younger throughout his life.

The concept is astounding – someone living life in reverse…getting younger by the day, and acting like it.

Unlike Button who had a valid reason to regress, Pittsburgh Steeleers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has none.

Roethlisberger starred at Miami University in Ohio, the hometown hero leading his team to victory each week.  Despite limited playing time at the position in high school, Roethlisberger went on to set every meaningful career and single-season passing record for the RedHawks.

He was rewarded for his efforts by being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the premier franchises in the National Football League.  The Steelers signed him to a lavish multi-million dollar contract before ever stepped onto an NFL field.  Touted as their “QB of the future,” Roethlisberger started his career at the bottom of the depth chart, giving him the time needed to learn the game from veterans Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch. 

However, when both of his mentors fell to injury, Roethlisberger was pressed into action.  Showing his talent and leadership from Day One, he started 13 regular season games as a rookie – and the Steelers won them all.  With Roethlisberger at the helm, Pittsburgh made a deep run into the postseason in 2004-05.  The following year, they won the Super Bowl.  The futre was now for the Steelers.

However, following the Super Bowl victory, things started to “Button-up” for the franchise quarterback.

In June 2006, Roethlisberger crashed his motorcycle.  Because he wasn’t wearing a helmet, his injuries were immense.  He underwent hours of surgeries to reconstruct his literally shattered face.

Three years later, he was the target of a civil suit in an alleged sexual assault in Lake Tahoe.  While this case never amounted to anything, mostly due to the accuser ruining her own case, the court of public opinion noted the event and moved on to football.

This past March, however, a salacious new scandal broke out in Millidgeville, GA.  Local police announced they were investigating Roethlisberger for an alleged sexual assault of a 20-year old college student in a club bathroom.  No charges were filed, but the quarterback’s name has been dragged through the mud.  One version of the story of that night in Georgia says that off-duty Pennsylvania police, acting as security, knowingly allowed the sexual conduct and kept the accuser’s friends away from her.

Over the past decade, Big Ben has gone from hometown QB hero to rookie phenom to Super Bowl champion to a knucklehead riding a motorcycle without a helmet to being investigated from alleged sexual assault.  Quite a career arc, no?  And now he will be suspended by the NFL for his conduct, with a formal announcement coming early this week.

So, PR experts, how can Ben Roethlisberger turn his image around before he continues to regress into an infant?  Leave your answers in the comments section!

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  • Brittany_V
    he is out for 6 games. And rumor has it that Pittsburgh is seeking to trade him for a first roung draft pick. Good riddens.
  • rachelakay
    Wow - great topic for discussion. I think the other commenters have made some great points so I won't add too much more. I think when the issue is violence, a whole new can of worms emerges. I think its necessary for him to pursue treatment, and admit that there are issues that he needs to deal with. He owes his fans an apology. And he certainly does need to avoid any drinking or partying in the public eye - now is the time to show a reflective, mature individual.

    Rachel Kay
  • Femi
    He can't be helped. He beats to his own drum, very similar to another athlete *cough Tiger*. Remember how Tiger Woods said he would keep his emotions in check at the Masters? Big time fail. Big Ben is going to do what he wants until he is cut/traded by the Steelers and out of the NFL.
  • jeffespo
    This is an interesting case with Bog Ben. Now while it might be easy to say avoid everything not related to the Steelers, it is easier said than done. My suggestion to Ben would be to dump his current handlers and to get a body guard that goes everywhere. While he might look like a big dude, he could use a professional looking after him. Think of it this way - you can get blacked out as much as you want, but the guy takes you away from bad situations. The current bobos will guard the door for you.

    Also avoid college bars and it might make sense to hit a AAA meeting.
  • he never had his own good image to begin with, even when he was winning, it was known in Pittsburgh that many knew him as a jerk off the field. Those outside of pittsburgh saw him just as the QB for the steelers surrounded by stellar personalities (not including himself); with suspension imminent, his image is in a worse situation than possibly anyone knows. Bottom line, there's nothing to salvage, its time for change and creation. The best thing for him is if the Steelers actually trade him to a new city and he begins that transformation there with a fresh start and dedication to be the face of that franchise and city. On a side note, he never had a chance to fully step into that "face of the franchise" role with Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward front and center. if he stays with the steelers, obviously his legal troubles are still not over.
  • debratownsend
    Ben's 5 steps:
    1. Use suspension time wisely -- rehab, time at home with mom.
    2. SINCERELY apologize to victim and ask forgiveness.
    3. Do not blame victim.
    4. Do not imply she was complicit in act.
    5. Do not make excuses.
    6. Admit there were other victims before they come out of the woodwork one by one.
    7. Take an interest in and donate a large amount to sexual violence cause/hotline, etc.
    8. Speak to high school and college athletes about dangers in such behavior.
    9. Show by actions that you know what you did was wrong, not just that you got caught.
    10. Get counseling and stay in top physical form -- run in marathon for DV, etc.
    11. Play excellent football
    12. Change behavior -- now and forever.
  • good steps, he needs to resolve civil case ASAP in order to go beyond step 1.
  • I live in Pittsburgh and this is THE top story pretty much every night. If I were his publicist, I'd tell him that except for team-related activities, he needs to stay.home. NO nightclubs/partying. And when he goes to public appearances, he needs to wear a suit (unlike his press conference in a golf polo). He should issue a public, personal apology to the Rooneys and the NFL for his conduct following the official announcement of his suspension. Honestly, in Pittsburgh he has been known for being a not-so-smart/kind person for a while now, and it'd take a short novel to describe the steps he should take to regain our confidence.
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