Ben Roethlisberger: Marked Man Gets No Protection From NFL Referees

Alan ShimelCorrespondent IDecember 12, 2010

PITTSBURGH - JANUARY 18:  Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens kneels over Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers as Roethlisberger grimaces after he was hit by Lewis during the AFC Championship game on January 18, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

If it weren't so dangerous, it would border on the hysterical. When are the NFL referees going to enforce the rules against defensive players taking head shots against Ben Roethlisberger. If they don't I am afraid that at this point they are seriously impairing Ben's career and his long term health.

I can think of three reasons why the referees are selectively allowing Roethlisberger to take this illegal and dangerous punishment:

  1. Is this the NFL's revenge against Ben for his past indiscretions? Has the word gone down that Ben is a bad boy and "deserves what he has coming to him"? I would hope and pray that people at the league level would not stoop this low. But after seeing a Jet assistant stick his knee out today to trip a Dolphin player running down the sideline, nothing would surprise me.  If it is true, the Rooney's and the Steelers organization need to step in here.
  2. Are the officials taking out on Ben and the Steelers offense the wrath they have for the Steelers defense playing hard? I don't know, maybe they figure that if the Steelers want to play rough and tough defense, then they have to "give as good as they get", so they are not going to call unnecessary roughness as the defenses are teeing off on Ben.
  3. He is big enough to take it. Yes, Ben is big and tough, but that doesn't mean he doesn't get hurt or feel the pain. If this is true, it would be really sad. I have seen it coaching youth football. The attitude that somehow the big kid doesn't feel the hits as much as the little guy is nonsense. They are putting Ben's career and health in jeopardy by not enforcing the rules.

The bottom line is that for whatever reason—one of these three or something else—the NFL is putting a bounty on Roethlisberger's head by not enforcing these rules. Not only is this going to effect the Steelers season and the length of Ben's career, but it is going to effect his quality of life later on.  

If this were Peyton Manning or Tom Brady getting smacked around like this the officials and the league would be raising bloody murder.  Instead it is "Big Ben" going out there with a broken nose and face guard getting smacked in the helmet and the officials sit there like three monkeys: See no evil, Hear no evil and Speak no evil.

How long is this going to go on before someone steps in and lays down the law? Art Rooney should be on the bat phone with the Royal Emperor Roger Godell telling him that the Steelers organization is not going to tolerate this callous disregard for Ben's health any longer.

If the league doesn't do anything about it the Steelers defense should declare open season on opposing QB's and the fines be damned!