The Ben Roethlisberger Story: Is He the NFL's Version of Tiger Woods?

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2010

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 27:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on December 27, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)
Karl Walter/Getty Images

It's safe to say now that Big Ben Roethlisberger is in a bit of trouble.  Not the sort of trouble that lands you a three-game suspension from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, but the sort of trouble that may cost you your all so promising career in football.

It feels like only yesterday the news broke that Ben Roethlisberger had been accused of sexual assault, but going on nearly a month to date, the case has successfully been drawn out long enough to make Ben Roethlisberger seem even more foolish than before.

However, this type of controversy seems to be ever prevalent in today's sporting world, as athletes struggle to lead any normal form of social life, or better yet even be able to exit their front door without being swarmed by the annoying buzz of the paparazzi and news media.

When you look around professional sports today, there are several names that pop up in respective sports that have been able to draw in headlines and capture people's attention.  But one stands out amongst the rest, and given his recent return to professional golf, Tiger Woods is quite possibly one of the most followed men on God's green earth.

Like Ben Roethlisberger, Tiger did some terrible things.  Not only to his family, but to his strong followers such as myself that had the utmost confidence in Tiger Woods, and really did see the potential he showed on and off the course.

The sex scandal finally made it to the news, and for weeks it felt the earth revolved around Tiger Woods, and the simple mistake that hundreds of hard working people make everyday but fail to receive constant bulletins about because they simply don't play golf well.

Now we have Ben Roethlisberger, who was at the peak of his career (just like Tiger) and has made a possible career-altering mistake.

But when comparing the two, is it fair to say that Ben Roethlisberger is the NFL's version of Tiger Woods?  Well, yes and no, but I think the following points will clear this argument up a little.

Ben Roethlisberger Isn't Quite As Famous

The first side to this story is that Ben Roethlisberger probably isn't as world-renowned as Tiger Woods is.  Coming from an international point of view, asking people if they know who the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is, is pretty much like asking Brett Favre if he ever plans to retire—they simply don't know the answer.

In terms of worldwide news, Ben Roethlisberger's case has failed to really make it overseas.  Sex scandals are constantly in the media, and although Big Ben's is a prime example of how not to treat women, Ben's case has failed to really grasp a hold on the rest of the world, and instead seems to only be a talking point amongst the United States.

Does Ben Mean to Football What Tiger Means to Golf?

The other point to be made is one that can be a little controversial.  Does Ben Roethlisberger mean as much to football, as Tiger Woods means to golf?  Some may argue that Ben does indeed mean a great deal to the game of football, but personally I fail to see how a concussion-prone quarterback that has made his fair share of mistakes,lives up to being as meaningful to the game as Tiger Woods.  

Look at it this way, if Peyton Manning was in Ben's position, this would be a totally different story, as the NFL would be facing losing the face of their league and arguably the most talented quarterback amongst all 32 teams.

Ben Roethlisberger is a good quarterback, don't get me wrong.  His two Super Bowl rings do say a lot, but in terms of what he means to the NFL, I don't think a Ben Roethlisberger loss would really change the future of professional football.

Can Ben Roethlisberger Sort His Life Out?

So far for Tiger Woods, he has managed to clear up just about every mistake he's made.  As the case was unfolding, the public didn't hear much from Tiger's point of view.  Whether or not this was to avoid public attention, or to just not give reporters the satisfaction of talking to Tiger remains to be seen, but for the most part Tiger dealt with the pressure fairly well.

Ben Roethlisberger, on the other hand, may find it a little tougher.  Golf fans are much more accepting than football fans, and when Ben Roethlisberger steps into Cleveland Browns Stadium or possibly even Heinz Field, I guarantee that some fans will take it upon themselves to give Ben a hard time.

What Roethlisberger needs to do is address the press, make a statement, and look toward the legal issues that await.  Ignoring the public will only dig Ben a deeper hole, so communicating with everyone could at least put him in a more honest light.

Will Ben Roethlisberger Make a Successful Return?

This is perhaps the biggest question right now, as no one knows if we will ever see Ben play another down, let alone in Pittsburgh, but the entire NFL.

In case you missed The Masters last week, Tiger Woods received a warm ovation as he stepped up to the first tee and delivered in his usual fashion.  Perhaps it was due to Tiger's apology or his overall honesty with those around him, but for the most part Tiger still seemed to be loved by all.

Aside from how Tiger was perceived, he also performed exceptionally well.  Finishing in the top five, Tiger Woods' efforts at The Masters were more than most expected.  Therefore, the same question can be proposed to Ben Roethlisberger, and whether or not he can come back from a controversial off-field incident and still play with the same game plan and overall ability.

Can Ben Roethlisberger Stay Out of Trouble?

Finally, can Ben Roethlisberger stay out of trouble?  His current scenario is looking bleak, and if for some lucky reason he gets cut a second chance, Ben Roethlisberger had better be willing to sort out his issues and remain out of trouble.

Tiger Woods is still a question on this issue, as his womanizing will always be questioned.  However, Woods has attended sex rehab clinics in his time away from golf, and he does seem devoted to his wife and kids at this point.

Can Ben get his life back on track and keep out of the media?  It will be hard, but it is a test that Ben must face in order to continue in a successful NFL career.


To sum it all up, Ben Roethlisberger is quite possibly the NFL's version of Tiger Woods.  The scandal has swept America by storm, and the amount of media coverage on the issue has been enormous.

Although Ben's controversy hasn't hit a worldwide scale, it has managed to land Ben in a predicament that doesn't look all that positive.  A lot of questions remain in this case, and I assure you that we will be hearing about Ben Roethlisberger possibly up until the regular season begins.

Can he make a return?  Of course.  Will it be positive?  Who knows.  Things need sorting out, and Ben needs to take baby steps in doing so.  Tiger Woods or not, Ben Roethlisberger is a cause for concern for commissioner Roger Goodell and the entire NFL.


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