Ben Roethlisberger Is Back from His "Vacation" with Gracious Help from the Media

Dexter RogersCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2010

PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 02: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers drops back to pass against the Carolina Panthers during the preseason game on September 2, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Ben Roethlisberger is days away from making his debut at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The table has been set. All he has to do is run through the tunnel and all will be forgiven.

I watched the interview Roethlisberger gave on ESPN with Merril Hoge. Roethlisberger has been coached very well by his PR team.

Hoge is a former Steeler. He and Roethlisberger are golfing buddies, and Hoge has served as a mentor to the troubled quarterback. Big Ben even played in Hoge’s charity golf outing earlier this past summer.

Can you say handpicked?

From listening to the Roethlisberger interview, it was as if he was on vacation and not suspended for the sexual assault allegations he was facing.

Roethlisberger kept stating he’s “glad to be back” and is looking forward to competing because he’s been “away.”

How come Hoge didn’t ask Roethlisberger exactly what he’s coming “back” from?

Why was Roethlisberger “away” from football, folks?

Hoge didn’t ask the tough questions because he was handpicked by Roethlisberger’s team.

Why wasn’t Roethlisberger interviewed by a female?

Why hasn’t Roethlisberger been pressed about “exactly” what he was accused of and what he’s learned from nearly going to trial for sexual assault?

What type of counseling did Roethlisberger have?

The latter questions are too objective to be asked to a person who is subjectively protected by the media—just like his quarterbacking buddy Brett Favre.

Roethlisberger being protected isn’t a new thing. Many want to point to the SI article written on Roethlisberger in May and how it blasted Big Ben. I think the contrary.

The most telling part of the article to me was the following passage describing his behavior after his motorcycle accident in 2006, which shows how Big Ben has been protected:

“A few months after the accident, a reporter and a cameraman for KDKA-TV, the CBS affiliate that broadcasts Steelers games, were driving on I-376 in Pittsburgh when they saw two men on motorcycles and recognized one as Roethlisberger, who was not wearing a helmet. They began shooting footage, which showed Roethlisberger giving them the finger as he sped away, but the video never aired. The station's news director at the time, John Verrilli, and its current assistant news director, Anne Linaberger, deny that any such tape existed, but several people who saw the video gave SI similar accounts of the tape; sources believe the story was killed out of fear that it would damage KDKA's relationship with the Steelers.”

Can anyone say cover-up?

The same mainstream media that protected Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh has picked up the slack in the mainstream.

We all know Roethlisberger has faced sexual allegations charges on two occasions. We know exactly why he has been “away” from football, yet he isn’t subjected to questions about his reckless behavior and why he’s been issued a pass.

Roethlisberger wasn’t found guilty in the court of law, but something just doesn’t seem right. Despite the case not standing trial, I still believe something happened in that bathroom in Milledgeville, GA that warranted a trial.

Hold your horses. I’m free to think as I please. If many of you can still assert that O.J. Simpson did it 15 years after he was found innocent at the “Trial of the Century,” I can assert my beliefs about Roethlisberger today.

Roethlisberger’s mission is almost complete. The only thing left to do is play football. He’ll be asked how it feels to be back. He’ll be asked about his performance and what it felt like playing football again.

Legitimate questions indeed—but how about asking him relevant questions pertaining to why he was suspended?

How about asking Roethlisberger what he needs to do going forward to not repeat his behavior?

There’s another quarterback who plays in the same state of Pennsylvania who also wears No. 7. His name is Michael Vick. 

We all know his story. We know of his whereabouts past and present. We know Vick feels remorse because he’s expressed it. We know Vick is active in the community because it’s mandated, and he’s embraced it.

We know Vick felt he was entitled. When asked by former head coach Jim Mora Jr. recently why he did the things he did, Vick answered, “Because I’m Mike Vick.”

Vick suggested he was above the law. His every action has been ridiculed, scrutinized and analyzed.

Has Roethlisberger received a fraction of the treatment Vick has?

You all want to point to a singular SI article that paints Big Ben in a different light. How many negative articles have been written about Vick compared to Roethlisberger?

After Vick was named the starter for the Philadelphia Eagles, The Philadelphia Inquirer ran the headline, “TOP DOG.”

That’s type of headline is acceptable because it’s Vick. Would that same paper have the guts to say “Ben 'Sexual Assault' Roethlisberger is back?”

I rest my case.

If Roethlisberger plays well and the Steelers continue to win, he’ll soon outrun his past and be able to have a potential future free of ridicule.

As Roethlisberger crosses his final t and dots his final i on Sunday, much of what he did will be long forgotten because the media will make sure of it.

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