Reality Bites: Why Steelers Fans Should Rally Behind Big Ben (Seriously)

Tim McGheeCorrespondent IIIMay 11, 2010

MIAMI - JANUARY 03:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

I'm the guy who in two recent Bleacher Report articles tried to tie NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to racism and misogyny in his handling of the Ben Roethlisberger situations.

Thirty eight terse comments say I didn't sell anyone on my ideas.

The best result of all of this, is that we agree to disagree. However, what really took place is I learned a lot.

In my articles, I went for Mr. Goodell's throat, and Roethlisberger suffered collateral damage. So, after reading the 38 comments, I should definitely rethink this Big Ben thing.


Here are My Conclusions

Roethlisberger is described as an arrogant punk, according to a writer for 

He may be an arrogant punk but he's our arrogant punk.

His performance on the field reminds us Steelers fans of Terry Bradshaw.

From his first season in 2004, Roethlisberger is far and away better than any quarterback we had in the past 11 years.

Because of this, we must accept his failings and line him up under center. Reality does indeed bite.


Put your Steelers ball cap on and think back to 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, and 2001. 

If it begins to hurt, don't deny the feeling. You gotta let it all out, I don't care how painful it gets. 

Now do as I did, and take your quest for knowledge to Wikipedia and beyond.

Feel the burn. The more excruciatingly unbearable it is, the quicker you will see it for what it is.

The years were 1994 through 2001, an eight year penance for unknown sins, maybe for calling Terry Bradshaw stupid in the early 1970s. 

Eight years of the quest for ones for the thumbs, taken away from Steelers fans byTomczak, by O'Donnell, by StewartStewart, oh my God, Stewart! 

I can't take it anymore! Kent Graham, stop! Please!

Maybe you're getting the idea why we should rally behind Ben Roethlisberger.

This is serious business.

Interestingly, this plague of playoff-challenged quarterbacks, a D-list of sunshine soldiers who quaked in their cleats every January, began the same year the film Reality Bites was released. 

It would take 10 years to realize the significance of that. There were signs that we fans could not read until we finally saw them.  Example: Tommy Maddox really did play like an insurance agent.

We should have figured it out earlier than that, but it took us until Kordell Stewart's remarkable seasons fell apart like a cheap suit.

Kordell was the leader of more collapses than Lehman Brothers and AIG together. 

Recall the AFC Championship in 1997. Pittsburgh was the favorite over Denver at Three Rivers in what turned out to be a evenly-matched game. 

Three Stewart interceptions, a lost Stewart fumble, and too many pathetic passes later, its John Elway headed for glory, destined to be forever remembered for his Super Bowl helicopter landing.

Slash could have done that.

Go back to the AFC Championship Game of the 2001 season.  Kordell again, quarterbacking a heavily favored Steelers team of ring-hungry men against New England, as the Pats arrived at Heinz by virtue of the obscure Tuck Rule. 

Tuck Rule? They're gone in 60 seconds, Pittsburgh fans said laughing.

Result? It's true the Steeler kicking game was sad, but the Super Bowl berth was still within grasp. 

Stewart, apparently channeling his inner 1997, laid waste of that opportunity as he put three picks up for grabs, two late in a winnable game.

It was the Patriots going to New Orleans as the St. Louis Rams were the ambush victims waiting to happen.

That could have been us.  We could have taken down The Greatest Show on Turf. 

Then there was Neil O'Donnell's reign of error. 

AFC Championship Game 1994 season. O'Donnell takes Pittsburgh at Three Rivers to a 13-3 lead at half. 

That year, the Steelers were 9-0 when up at halftime. 

Well, make that 9-1. 

Neil could barely muster a field goal as San Diego scored two TDs and pulled off one helluva road upset.

Now, look at The Big HeartbreakSuper Bowl XXX. The result was an exasperating 27-17 loss to the Cowboys that should not have happened. 

The Steelers out-gained the 'Boys, 310 yards to 254. Pittsburgh led big in the first down tally 25 to 15 and the "Blitzburgh" defense held a formidable Dallas running attack to 56 yards.

But, no. Neil O'Donnell threw three picks, two deep in Steeler territory which Dallas easily converted to touchdowns.

The maddening irony is this: at the time Neil was the NFL career leader with the fewest interceptions per pass attempt.


Now that we've recalled the frustration of those character-building championship games, look at the most recent six seasons. 

In 2004, Big Ben the rookie led the Steelers to 15-1, with the only stumble in the AFC championship game against the New England Patriots at their zenith.

The following year in 2005, Roethlisberger guided a sixth seed on the road, winning the four games necessary to take the franchise's fifth Lombardi home. 

It wasn't easy.

In Super Bowl XL, Roethlisberger had a quarterback rating lower than his years on this planet. Didn't stop him. He just simply got the job done.

This spring, much has been written and talked about Big Ben's audacity on the party circuit, citing among other things the famous quote, "All my bitches, get some shots!"

So, how about Big Ben's audacity in Super Bowl XLIII, especially when he convinced his offense to believe they could drive the length of the field in a matter of a couple of minutes and win the sixth Lombardi?

In Sports Illustrated, Jack McCallum referred to Roethlisberger as a "lout." 

Well, if that's true, he's a supremely talented lout whose big challenge now is to pull himself out of the mess he's gotten into.

After further review, the punishment levied by Roger Goodell could be termed as sufficient. 

With deference to women everywhere, I would have kept Roethlisberger out until Week Nine, but that's why Roger is the commish and I'm an unpaid hack.

Thing is, Ben Roethlisberger has done a lot for Steelers fans. Perhaps it's time for us to swallow our collective pride, and give the guy a decent second chance.

We may be well rewarded.









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