NFL: Ben-Gate and the St. Louis Rams
An ancient Chinese curse reads "May you live in interesting times."
In 30 years as a St. Louis Rams fan, I cannot remember a news cycle like this one. For the past several years, the Rams have been a low-profile team, clocking two wins per season, and drafting No. 2 overall. National interest in the team has been slim to none. Now, suddenly, there is more Rams news than you can keep pace with.
The Rams are in the middle of being sold.
The Rams want a new stadium.
They may be moving back to southern California.
The Rams are now officially the worst team in the league, as proved by the 1-15 record. We are therefore drafting first overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, perhaps the final NFL draft without a rookie salary cap.
Everybody wants to know who the Rams are taking.
Despite the luxury tax involved in drafting No. 1, it was predicted early that there would be overtures made for the No. 1 pick because of the presence of the most coveted defensive prospect in years: Ndamukong Suh.
Well, as it turns out, there are overtures, but they are coming for one Sam Bradford... and this was supposed to be a poor quarterback year!
I just finished watching Around the League and NFL Live , and the news contained therein could not have been more shocking.
It would appear that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a sizable chunk of the district attorney's findings in Ben Roethlisburger's case. The excerpts were downright ugly, and I don't mean "kinda sorta" ugly.
Evidently, this set off a firestorm at Steelers' HQ.
Art Rooney II was said to be livid. A two-game suspension (minimum) seems a guarantee now.
According to La Canfora and Eisen, in this moment of anger, the Steelers' executives began talking among themselves about a plan to deal Ben, if the order comes down.
Be advised: The Steelers have not made the decision to deal Roethlisburger. They were simply exploring the options for moving him, if the order comes down from the Rooney family.
This is where it gets interesting for Rams fans.
In the heat of the moment, the Steelers actually gave the Rams a jingle. They wanted to know what the Rams would think of acquiring both Roethlisburger and the No. 17 pick in the draft in exchange for the No. 1.
Just checking, mind you.
Just exploring the options and gauging interest. The Rams expressed "very limited interest," according to La Canfora.
La Canfora was clear that the Steelers believe Bradford is the one and only franchise QB in this draft, and the only kid with a chance at replacing Roethlisberger. This is the reason for an exploratory conversation with the Rams.
You all well know the sort of controversy this is stirring among Steelers fans. Pittsburgh is burning.
What do Ram fans think of this option?
Sometimes God gives you these little gifts, and sometimes the Devil tempts you with these things.
So which is this?
I think it is a pure temptation.
On the one hand, Roethlisberger is a stellar performer. In terms of on-the-field performance, he is underrated, he is not overrated. He is a clutch performer. He is one of a few elite franchise QBs with Super Bowl rings.
Now that Kurt Warner has retired, there are only six such quarterbacks in the league. If Favre does not return for another season, there will be only five.
Roethlisberger should also be entering the prime of his career...were it not for these problems.
On the other hand, he is a greasy bastard.
You only need to read the DA's findings to figure out his MO. Not since Ken Stabler have we had this sort of cat in such a high profile position in the league. Read the Snake's autobiography for all of the lurid, sorted details of his hot-tub antics.
Does any Rams fan want this sort of fellow on the team? What a moral dilemma.
On the one hand, you do want that kind of on-field performance. On the other hand, the fewer the number of guys like this dwelling in your town, the better off you are.
In pure football terms, it's probably a no-brainer.
Roethlisberger has to be preferred over Bradford. But if such is the case, then why don't the Steelers just hold on to him and their No. 17 pick? Why even have an exploratory conversation with the Rams about dealing both Roethlisburger and the No. 17 for Bradford?
Because it isn't as simple as on the field performance.
Roethlisberger has humiliated the Steelers organization, and he's now on the commissioner's hit-list—and probably in the cross-hairs of his gun sights.
From the viewpoint of a strategic Rams fan, I hope the Steelers' sudden interest simply lights a match under Holmgren's booty.
I hope the deal with Pittsburgh does not go through. I don't know if I could stand Ben Roethlisberger in a Rams uniform.
One thing is for certain. He would have to change numbers.
Jersey No. 7 was retired for Hall of Famer Bobby Waterfield.
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