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Great Expectations: How Big Ben's Quiet Demeanor Worked Against Him

MIAMI - JANUARY 03:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks back to the huddle after injuring his shoulder in the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Miami, Florida. The Steelers defeated the Dolphins 30-24.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images
David DeRyderCorrespondent IJune 9, 2010

Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the latest in a long line of athletes to fall from grace. Big Ben's questionable actions with an intoxicated college student in a Georgia bar failed to create a national outcry to rival the 24/7 coverage of Tiger Woods' affairs. However, there was still a large amount of outrage directed at Roethlisberger. Fans are disillusioned and the NFL has banned the quarterback for the first six games of the 2010 season.

I can understand why people harbor anger towards the two time Super Bowl champion. What I cannot comprehend is why some people are still surprised when a big time athlete makes poor choices. Before it became apparent that Big Ben might not have a straight moral compass, what did we know about him? He had a great arm, a unique ability to keep plays alive, and was an exceptional athlete. What in that list would make someone expect a saint?

ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons dissected the Tiger Woods scandal. He realized that before that fateful Thanksgiving the American public didn't know a thing about Tiger outside of him playing golf. Simmons pointed out that the guy named his yacht Privacy, a indication of how much he enjoyed keeping his personal life personal.

When athletes keep to themselves off the field it opens the door for society make them what they want them to be. Tiger had a killer drive, so he must be a great person. Roethlisberger can throw a football, so he must be a role model. Such logic is completely flawed, yet it persists. Popular athletes can never stay out of the spotlight. They are better off being open.

What if Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson were in Big Ben's situation? (I refuse to call Johnson by his now official name because it's stupid. The Bengals should have changed his number to 86. Don't tell me that wouldn't have been hilarious, "Wide receiver for the Bengals is Chad '85 in Spanish', number 86.") For some reason I don't think they would be suspended. We expect loud mouthed, diva-esque wide outs to behave stupidly. After the charges were dropped T.O. would have said something like, "The reason I ain't goin' to court is because I ain't do nothing wrong." Roethlisberger kept his mouth shut and seemed shady.

I'm not condoning Big Ben's actions. All I'm saying that is when an athlete or celebrity closes off their personal life society creates unfair expectations. Big Ben likes to party like many other people. The only difference is because he plays quarterback in the NFL many Americans assumed he didn't. It would be great if all athletes were good role models. Unfortunately, there will be many more Tiger Woods and Ben Roethlisbergers. I only hope the next big athlete to be in a scandal will have made their immoral tendencies known before it occurs. Not for my sake, but theirs.

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