I have never seen a Pittsburgh athlete more scrutinized and criticized throughout his career than Steeler's quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The man's career, only going into his eighth season, will go down in infamy for sure. From going 15-1 as a rookie, to being the youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl, to the motor cycle accident and the sexual crime accusations, one thing is for sure, Roethlisberger's career is full of drama.
However, perhaps Big Ben is growing up and maturing into the quarterback and man he should and needs to be. We've heard stories that despite being the quarterback, Big Ben hasn't always been the best teammate or leader.
I don't have locker room access but from what I hear, I think it's safe to say that's no longer true.
With the NFL currently in a lockout state, Roethlisberger has organized informal sessions at a local high school with a handful of players. These players include his young wide receivers Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, Limas Sweed and Emmanuel Sanders. That is what a leader should do.
Fact is Ben is a special player who has always played the game relying on his natural abilities. If Ben's work ethic and focus can match his natural talent there's no telling how much better he can become.
Not only is Roethlisberger leading by running "unofficial" workouts, he led last year by playing through great pain and injuries. Anyone remember the Sunday night game in Baltimore on NBC? Broken nose, limping on one leg, playing against one of the hardest hitting defenses in the league and still led the Steelers to a victory. He showed guts to the entire football world that night.
Roethlisberger also took care of the ball better last season, throwing 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He went without throwing a pick from week 14 to the AFC Championship game.
Of course he did throw two costly interceptions in the Super Bowl, but he still almost managed to lead the Steelers to one of the biggest comebacks in Super Bowl history.
Aside from football, Roethlisberger is growing up as a man. In July, Roethlisberger will get married to Ashely Harlan, a local girl from New Castle. Showing even more maturity, Roethlisberger said they are not living together until they're married because of their religious beliefs.
Not only that, but Roethlisberger has invited 500 people to the wedding and has asked all of them not to bring gifts, but do donate to his favorite charities: the Ronald McDonald House and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
Of course his reputation will never be great, not after what has already happened.
That being said, he never killed anyone, he was never arrested or charged with a crime. He was simply accused, just like former Steeler's running back Jerome Bettis. Big Ben was a young, Super Bowl winning quarterback who made some bad decisions.
Fact is Roethlisberger is still in his prime and can still add to his legacy. A few more Pro Bowls and maybe another Super Bowl or two and people will be discussing Roethlisberger as one of the greatest of all time.
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