Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger must be playing in the NFL under a completely different set of rules than the rest of the quarterbacks in the league. At least it sure seems like it. Roethlisberger has been hit after the play on multiple occasions lately, especially in the last few games. I'm not the only one that is seeing it, as Ben and his teammates even addressed the issue after the game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
In that game Roethlisberger was hit by Bengals safety Roy Williams after he had already thrown the football, which should have resulted in a roughing the passer penalty.
Here's the definition for roughing the passer: "Flagrantly running into or hitting the quarterback after the ball has been released. Can also be called when a defender hits the quarterback in the head."
As a Steelers fan, I am more concerned for the health and protection of the Steelers franchise QB than the penalty not being called.
Big Ben was already playing with a broken nose and a broken bone in his foot, so you would like to think that the referees would be watching for these kind of hits. Well, it was apparent that they either didn't see these hits, which is highly unlikely, or they just refuse to call any kind of roughing against the Steelers quarterback.
Against the Baltimore Ravens, Ben was hit in the face during a play by Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata. The play resulted in a broken nose for Ben and no penalty. Roethlisberger told the media that the official's explanation for the non-call was that Ngata was just trying to tackle him. That makes no sense because you simply can not touch another player's face mask or helmet, especially a quarterback's helmet or face mask.
The "just trying to tackle him" argument is a result of Ben's style of play. Ben and the Steelers are at their best when he is scrambling around, avoiding sacks and breaking tackles. But I'm not talking about Ben getting tackled, I'm talking about him getting roughed up by opposing players after the play is either already over, or after Ben has gotten rid of the ball.
This is the same league that goes out of its way to call roughing the passer on the Steelers at all costs. This is the same league that created a new rule after Tom Brady was hit and injured in 2008. These are the same referees that called a roughing the passer call against the Eagles after Peyton Manning's helmet was grazed by an Eagles player.
So every time Ben takes a questionable hit and there's no call, Steelers fans are going to ask themselves "What if that was Brady or Manning instead?"
Is it that simple or is Ben being treated unfairly? The conspiracy theorists may be on to something when they say that the Steelers are being targeted by the NFL. Ben is telling the media that he's getting weird explanations from the officials after these non-calls happen. Even after Ben plays with broken bones, the refs still refuse to call the game the same way for Ben as they do with other QB's.
Is it just because of the style of play that Ben plays? Is it because he's a bigger QB and they think he can handle it? Are they simply just missing these calls? Or is Roethlisberger being made an example out of by Roger Goodell and the NFL?
Remember that Ben is the only player to have been suspended by the league for violating the code of conduct without being charged with a crime and/or arrested. We saw countless players get charged with crimes and arrested this offseason, and most of them faced little or no punishment.
Ben was neither charged nor arrested yet he was convicted by the media, fans and the NFL. Even though Ben wasn't charged, he received a six-game suspension that was later reduced to a four-game suspension by Goodell. Like many others, I was outraged by the length of suspension and the way Ben was being treated by the league and the media.
I'm not outraged by the way he's being treated during the games. Ben is getting roughed up by the opposing teams throughout the game, and sometimes it's blatant and very easy to see. Yet, he continues to get no calls from the refs. It's not just Ben either. Steeler nation has been upset with the officiating through the season, causing them and the players to believe they are being targeted by the NFL.
If the refs are simply missing the calls, that's also unacceptable. I understand the human-error element of it, but they should be held to a higher standard and be held more accountable. The league can't allow officials to try and ruin this beautiful game. If there's more to it, then we also have a problem. A bigger problem.
If Ben and the Steelers are being targeted and being made an example of by the league, then we have an integrity problem. Either way, something has to be done. These issues need to addressed sooner rather than later. The Steelers and their fans have a reason to gripe about the way their team and quarterback are being treated.
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