Just when you think you have seen and heard it all something else comes along to prove you wrong.
I have been proved wrong by Steeler fans in the last week and half.
I thought I had seen the full range of emotions from grown men crying at the sight of the Stanley Cup paraded down the Boulevard of the Allies last summer to a small boy crying in church as prayers were recited for the soul of Roberto Clemente. I thought that covered the entire spectrum.
But in the last while I have seen another side of that spectrum that frankly I don't like. I don't like the hatred side of the spectrum and I have seen way too much of it since word hit the streets that Ben Roethlisberger was in legal trouble again with another woman.
The pure and unadulterated hate spewing from all corners of Steeler Nation over the Roethlisberger affair is just past insane. Most of the Nation that I have heard from have thrown Ben under the bus with both hands and wouldn't mind backing it over him for good measure. They have tried, convicted and sentenced him already. The only matter left for discussion is the time and method of execution.
I am overstating the case with that line sentence, but just barely.
I am not here to excuse what the Steeler quarterback may or may not have done a couple of Fridays ago in a small Georgia town. Celebrities don't go in the restroom in a public place with a member of the opposite sex. There are a different set of rules for athletes with $100 million contracts and Ben should have figured that out by now.
Having spent 30 years in various radio newsrooms across the country I have learned that until all of the facts are on the table in a court of law you don't really know the entire story. Sometimes even then part of the story gets lost in the constitutional maze inside the courtroom. Until you see and hear all of the available evidence you are at best guessing as to what transpired.
Guessing is a dangerous thing to do when someone's reputation and career are hanging in the balance.
Were the legal matters here as clear cut as some would have us believe then charges would have been filed and we would be one step closer to finding out everything in a court. That this has not happened yet and that there are no signs that it might not happen anytime soon have my newsroom instincts standing on end. There is more to this than the bashers of Ben would have you believe.
What troubles me more are the stories flying out of the woodwork about Ben and what he might and might not have done elsewhere in public. Did he really stiff your second cousin once removed out of tip? Did Arnold Palmer really say that to him? Probably not and no. But in a world gone mad all is the truth and everyone is fair game. That's the part that makes me ill.
There is a very good chance that the man you are bashing and would rather run out of town on rails is going to be your starting QB in September. How to you reconcile that? What is Roethlisberger carries this team all of the way to Super Bowl XLV and is named the game MVP? Still want to ship him to Cleveland or beyond?
The untempered madness surrounding this matter is both understandable and troubling all at the same time. Pittsburgh is an old-fashioned town with old fashioned owners and old fashioned values. Pittsburgh fans want their heroes quiet and polite like Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux, not like Barry Bonds. They don't want their 28-year-old QB hanging out in college bars.
But the hate has to stop. If Roethlisberger made a mistake he's got more than a few people to answer to and you are not on the top of that list. Deal with it. Your QB is human just like the rest of us and capable of acts of greatness and acts of cowardice just like the rest of us. You are going to have to take a step back for a moment and take a deep breath.
Here's something else to think about Steeler Nation: What if at the end of all of this Ben Roethlisberger has to find it in his heart to forgive you?