Ben Roethlisberger Cheered at Heinz Field: He's Back Without Facing the Piper

Dexter RogersCorrespondent IOctober 18, 2010

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 17:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks off of the field after defeating the Cleveland Browns 28-10 on October 17, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Ben Roethlisberger cheered at Heinz Field: Finally his mission is complete.

Roethlisberger made a successful return from his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. He led the Steelers to victory over an outmatched Cleveland Browns team, 28-10.  Big Ben finished the game 16-for-27, for 257 yards, three touchdown passes and one interception.

Job well done.

Roethlisberger looked sharp running the offense for the most part.  He was also very appreciative of the reception he received from the fans at Heinz Field.  Roethlisberger stated it felt: “Amazing!” He continued, “I got a little bit of tears in my eyes. To hear a cheer like that was truly something special.”

Roethlisberger’s mission is now finally complete.  He was able to avert sexual assault charges, keep a low profile and assimilate back into the world of the NFL without truly facing the wrath from the mainstream.

This entire situation went down just like I predicted.  One thing I did not see coming was the Brett Favre situation.  What timing for Roethlisberger.  He got an assist from the “Ole Gunslinger” because of the controversy he’s involved in regarding allegedly sending inappropriate texts of his private parts to Jenn Sterger.  It forced the media to half-heartedly cover Favre, which equated to less heat on Big Ben’s return.

The assist from his quarterbacking brother and Roethlisberger playing well made it all but certain Roethlisberger will be welcomed with open arms in the Steel City, in the locker room and covered positively by the mainstream media.

When Michael Vick came back last year, there were picket signs and demonstrations by Philadelphia Eagles fans who didn’t want him on the team.  This season, despite stellar play and winning the starting job from Kevin Kolb, Vick was treated to a headline which read, “TOP DOG.”

Where were the demonstrations and anger from the Pittsburgh fans?

Where were the headlines in newspapers that referenced Roethlisberger’s reckless behavior?

Where were the tough one-on-one interviews with journalists like Vick faced consistently?

Tiger Woods apologized to the world for his transgressions: Why hasn’t been apologized for reckless behavior?

I guess it is just a matter of different strokes for different folks. 

Roethlisberger won’t be touched now.  The focus will be on football.  He won’t have to worry about explaining what type of rehab he received to better himself.  Roethlisberger won’t ever have the media camp out in from of his home like Tiger or have helicopters flying over his home like Vick was subject to.

He was never asked, nor will truly pay the piper and apologize like the media demanded of Tiger Woods.  He won’t face the barrage of questions about his unacceptable behavior like Vick faced. 

All Roethlisberger has to do now is talk about football and play quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Many of you think I have a chip on my shoulder. Some think I don’t like Roethlisberger. Furthermore, many of you think I’m regurgitating the past unnecessarily and unfairly.

Not true on all fronts.

The latter prevailing attitudes will not change the fact the mainstream treated Roethlisberger with kid gloves because of his celebrity and complexion. While those prevailing attitudes persist, they won’t change the fact that Roethlisberger has been treated like royalty compared to African-American athletes who have faced turmoil. 

I have consistently stated this is primarily a matter of administering equitable media coverage irrespective of race: It is nothing personal.  If African-American athletes like Vick and Tiger are vilified for their legal or moral misgivings, then whites should not be exempt from being the recipients of similar coverage.  There is not a logical debate I can see that can be constructed to refute the latter unless it’s showered with bias.

Roethlisberger, like any other person, has a right to a second chance.  He has a right to move on with his life and better himself.  I just don’t think it is fair that Roethlisberger be given a pass and evade media scrutiny when African-American athletes generally must face the music.

As I predicted Roethlisberger would ease back into the graces of those fans that were angry with Big Ben.  He was cheered by fans despite his reckless behavior of the past. He’s officially back with gracious help from the media and his PR team.  How fitting.

Again, job well done.

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