After he was accused of a sexual crime by a 20-year-old college student, it seemed that Ben had lost a lot of supporters and fans—especially considering that it was his second accusation of a sexual crime in just one year.
In 2009 Ben was accused of rape by a woman in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
After reading the facts of the first case, most supported Ben and gave him the benefit of the doubt. However, after the second accusation a lot of people were done defending Ben.
Even if he were innocent, most were disappointed in Ben for even putting himself in that position. Ben is a 100-million-dollar franchise, two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, so he's going to be held to a higher standard.
On the field, Ben is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He's one of the toughest quarterbacks to bring down and often makes defenders look small. At the same time Ben often takes bad sacks and throws a bad interception. He's a gunslinger that takes a lot of chances with the ball. His play resembles a double-edged sword.
His play on the field seems to resemble his personality off the field: taking chances. I think we all remember when Ben got into a motorcycle accident when he wasn't wearing a helmet.
Even though the Georgia incident didn't result in any charges or arrest for Big Ben, he was still pronounced guilty by the media. The District Attorney of Georgia pretty much proclaimed that Ben was guilty in a press conference but couldn't arrest him because of the lack of evidence.
Sports Illustrated came out with an article blasting Ben and the way that he "carried himself" off the field. Fans came out and said that he was an egotistical narcissist that treated most of them poorly. Even a few ex-teammates came out bashing him.
Finally, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Roethlisberger for the first six games of the 2010 season, which later got reduced to four games. Ben is the first player to ever be suspended by the league without facing any criminal charges. There were numerous players that were arrested and charged with crimes this past offseason alone that did not receive a harsh punishment like Ben's.
After the suspension was announced, Ben swore that he was going to change his ways and become a better person. So far, so good. After the suspension we've heard nothing but good things about Ben on and off the field.
His teammates have even noticed a change, as I even heard Hines Ward say that he's a changed guy. Last year Ward blasted Ben for not playing in a game against the Baltimore Ravens. Ben sat out of the game because of a concussion he suffered the week before.
Even though I don't think that Ben has to prove his toughness to anyone, he surely did that this year. Despite breaking a bone in his foot, Roethlisberger played the entire game against the Ravens in Baltimore this year. Early in the game Ben got his nose broken by Haloti Ngata. Ben remained in the game, showcasing his toughness on national television, and led the Steelers to a win.
Ben, who often had problems with the local media, received the "Chief Award," which is given to the player who follows the spirit of cooperation shown the media by Steelers founder Art Rooney. Again, it's Ben showing that he's willing to do anything to change.
Big Ben is also becoming a more mature quarterback. He's not taking as many bad sacks and is making some really good decisions with the football. His past 158 throws have not been intercepted, and of his 389 passes this season, only five were picked off. That is an interception rate of just 1.3 percent, the lowest of his career and the first time under two.
Despite playing in just 12 games, Ben finished with 3,200 yards passing, his fifth consecutive season over 3,000, extending his team record. His 97.0 passer rating was the fifth highest of his career and also represents one of the top five best in team history.
Lastly, it seems that Ben is ready to become a better man and settle down. It has recently been rumored that Ben is engaged. If that's true, I'm sure it will ease a lot of people's minds. Now it seems that Ben has changed for the good. If he hasn't earned the fans' hearts back yet, then the only other thing he can do is to lead the Steelers to another Super Bowl victory this year.
Has Ben changed for the good? It seems that way, but only time will tell.