Ben Roethlisberger: Why a Third Super Bowl Title Would Repair His Sleazy Image

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IJanuary 24, 2011

Ben Roethlisberger celebrates the AFC title.
Ben Roethlisberger celebrates the AFC title.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Ben Roethlisberger, by so very many accounts in Pittsburgh, is a changed man.

There are many ready and willing to testify that The Prince of Poor Behavior is a changed man, a new man, a guy who finally "gets it," a guy who has decided to become the guy when it comes to these Pittsburgh Steelers—a team that is adored, admired and held as a treasure in the nation's poster city for blue-collar.

Big Ben's gone from a barfly at Jack Rose Bar to the good son who hangs out with his parents on their large property outside the city.

There's even the unthinkable rumor that Big Ben is engaged, a notion bantered around that hasn't been confirmed or denied.

Call it an epiphany, but with his history of deplorable behavior the past few years, Roethlisberger was on the ropes. He was suspended by the Commish and, even worse, drew the ire and doubt of Steelers owner Dan Rooney, a man so widely respected that few owners can carry his briefcase.

The city that loves to love its heroes was growing tired of Bad Behavior Ben and his bodyguards and his entourage and his drunken escapades that escalated into despicable doings in Lake Tahoe in 2008 and in that Georgia bar in 2009.

The guy was simply lucky not to be in a jail cell somewhere and, perhaps, finally he's grown up.

He's been rehabbing himself from a personal standpoint this year. "I think, flat-out, he's a better person now," testifies teammate Willie Colon.

He's been a gamer on the field, playing with a bad leg and a broken nose, and he simply led his team to another Super Bowl appearance. He will now be on the grandest stage of all with the opportunity to show that the new-and-improved Big Ben is a far cry from the Sultan of Sleaze that he's been the past four years.

"He's worked at it, he's doing what he has to do on the field and off," said Mr. Rooney, a man who should always be addressed as "Mr."

A sign of the old times was discounted Roethlisberger jerseys around town. At the height of his boorish behavior, you could pick one up for $10. Now they're full price again.

It's a fact of life that, in this country, winning can cure a lot of woes.

This Super Bowl XLV is Ben's two weeks of personality rehab, if there is such a thing. It's a chance to show that the "old" Ben is somewhere by the wayside.

"He's more open, more vocal. He's becoming a great leader," is how Colon explained the transformation of a guy who wasn't always considered the greatest teammate.

Yes, this is Ben's chance to show he's not the schmuck he used to be.

He was as far from the most beloved Steeler as it could get. That honor went to Troy Polamalu, who spends time in the children's hospital and gives his phone number to sick kids.

Watch how Roethlisberger performed down the stretch in these playoffs and it's hard to realize that last spring his future in the Steel City was considered to be in doubt.

Funny how fast things can change in this day and age.

Ben The Brutal is trying to undergo a transformation worthy of a David Copperfield show.

He's looking like a kinder, gentler Ben.

The Steelers could certainly benefit from a Gentle Ben.

Not to mention a seventh Lombardi Trophy.