By early Sunday afternoon, Ben Roethlisberger took the field to partake in pregame warm-ups, and minutes before the game, he stood near his empty locker in his return from a four-game suspension for violating the personal conduct policy.
If a stranger had sauntered into the conference room following his sensational performance on the path to redemption, they wouldn’t have known that he’s willing to restore his image and unveil true remorse. A middle-age man, ready to escape the troubles in his mind and return to dynamic form, is finally maturing and thinking wiser after he had been labeled as a malefactor.
But of course, it would be his chance, in such a redemptive stage, to prove to fans and teammates that he has taken accountability for poor judgment and learned from his slip ups. Haunted all offseason by his stupidity and sexual assault charges, although he wasn’t convicted in either case, Roethlisberger is more fascinating in a forgiven country and loyalist are kindhearted to welcome the two-time Super Bowl champion.
In his absence, the Steelers were dominant without Big Ben orchestrating a stalwart offense. In his absence, the Steelers managed to win and relied heavily on their stingy defense, which usually determined a brand of resilience and toughness. Last week, he exchanged warmhearted hugs and smiles with his teammates and team executives in a friendly return.
If he has matured since the allegations spelled trouble, presumably he’ll avoid nightclubs on college campuses and intermingle with older women that cater within his age, not college girls at the wildest party where numerous girls are intoxicated and, well, Big Ben is horny.
By now, he clearly knows to avoid another sexual episode that could jeopardize his livelihood and reputation with a franchise emphasizing strong character. The Rooney's are committed to protect their image and expose excellent persona. Though he wasn’t arrested or charged in either case, Roethlisberger had to face reality by serving a six-game suspension that eventually had been reduced to four games when he met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL Sheriff who decided to take lenient measures in a mysterious ordeal.
As it stands, however, the aura of Big Ben is that he’s a modest and matured individual, ready to escape the lingering scrutiny of his disturbing sex stories. For now, at least, it seems Roethlisberger’s troubles with sexual assault accusations came about on stupidity, foolishly partying with college students and nearly throwing away a rare commodity.
The Steelers, the most loyal franchise in the NFL, trusted in Roethlisberger and declared that he’d be the face of the franchise as a valuable team leader. It’s easy to see how he was given a $102-million deal, proudly serving a well-respected, decorated franchise before almost damaging a monstrous career as a dire personal matter involving Big Ben created a frenzy of his stupidity and frivolity.
In reality, he’s not portrayed as a malefactor and he has never been charged with a crime, but had a pattern of allegedly committing rape and foolishly inviting college women into the club’s VIP room. A long time ago, he wouldn’t have gotten the message or left college women alone. Today, he realizes the ramifications involved when he recklessly parties and associates with sordid women looking for a good time, and then once the night is over, they suddenly screams rape!
The possibility of the Steelers aiming for another pursuit is very likely, especially with the return of Roethlisberger, who joined his teammates and led the Steelers to a 28-10 romp over the Cleveland Browns. Surely, he is more humble and grateful, given a second chance to clean up his image and rally a balanced attack on offense. The Steelers are well-balanced and a pesky team in the AFC North and poses as a viable competitor in the league.
Without the assistance of Roethlisberger, the Steelers surprising hadn’t stumbled as anticipated and won three of its first four games with an almighty defense and a relentless rushing attack. With that, the Steelers survived the likes of Atlanta and Tampa Bay, coming without Roethlisberger calling snaps or flinging passes. So now, however, the Steelers faithful believe he’s a changed man, a humbled individual with the mindset to conduct the Steelers back into title overdrive.
It wouldn’t be premature to admit that he’s remorseful and has been heavily appreciated in the Steel City, a place he has considered home and brought in much charming memories, guiding the Steelers to a breathtaking finish in a thrilling Super Bowl victory against the improbable Arizona Cardinals to compile the franchise’s sixth title.
The Terrible Towel crowd at Heinz Field still admires the heroics of his clutch finishes and supports the troubled megastar, despite accusations of disrespecting women and evoking a national disturbance among a team traditionally known for stressing positivity. Earlier in the year, the boorish fans pleaded for the Steelers to release a problematic Roethlisberger, disgusted of his alleged misdeeds with a college woman in a nightclub in a small-college Georgia town.
By the time he trotted out of the tunnel Sunday, a teary-eyed Roethlisberger greeted the roaring crowd as they anointed him with a standing ovation in the Steel City.
In the end, Roethlisberger discussed the crowd reaction, delighted that hundreds cheered loudly and wore the No. 7 jersey.
“Amazing,” he said. “That was part of the emotion I was feeling. It put tears in my eyes, to hear them cheer like that.”
But in this world, you cannot please everybody.
Some people may never ever anoint Roethlisberger, furious over his off-the-field nonsense. His poor judgment was absolutely unnecessary and outrageous, but the crowd believes he paid the price when he served a suspension, minimizing the rampant possibility of becoming a fallen star in the most famous league.
“You can tell he’s humbled to be where he’s at,” said Steelers tackle Max Starks. “He’s happy to be back. He appreciates it.”
Sometimes, it takes an awful blunder to instill reality into the minds of big-headed athletes, and he certainly needed a reality check or the next time he might have been convicted on rape charges. Normally, a player is rusty for missing a number of games, but more than ever, Roethlisberger had an impressive 112.7 passer rating. Thrilled to be back with his teammates, he communicated on the sidelines and laughed, cherishing the moment in a game he accounted for 257 yards and had three touchdown passes.
It marked his first dazzling game since he was accused for sexual assault. He reveled in the cheers that he felt were lost after being accused of sexual assault, he played brilliantly against division rivals the Browns and spoiled Colt McCoy’s NFL debut on Sunday. All praise came in the third quarter on a drive that gave the Steelers a 14-3 lead when Roethlisberger connected with wideout Mike Wallace for a 50-yard pass. Then, on the next play he tossed a 36-yard pass to tight end Heath Miller, which set up an 8-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward.
In a threshold to redemption, Big Ben repossessed his righteous name and played like a two-time champion, with an aerial spectacle that intensified the crowd. As it seems, the Steelers are on pursuit in capturing gratification and could be on a nifty joyride.
The Big Ben in Pittsburgh is maybe just as valuable as the structure in London.
Only time will tell.