Imagine this: You're a 17-year-old high school senior at Findlay (Ohio) High School. You're a captain of your school's football, basketball, and baseball teams.
You've never played quarterback, only to realize that with the recent departure of the coach's son and starting QB, you're forced to move from your natural position—wide receiver—to something with just a little more responsibility.
Then after only one season at what many consider the most difficult position in any sport, you're recruited by Miami—only not the one in southern Florida.
So you try out Oxford, Ohio, play in the MAC, and amazingly enough, get the starting quarterback job for the Miami University RedHawks—a program that hasn't won a conference football championship in nearly 15 years.
Then again, after only a single season under your belt, what do you have to lose?
While at Miami, you set every major passing record at the school, including a number of conference records. You lead the university to its coveted conference championship and its first bowl game appearance in more than a decade.
And you do it all in just three seasons.
But still, where can you go from here? Surely, NFL teams can't be completely serious about drafting a chubby kid from Findlay, Ohio, who still has only played four years of quarterback—could they? I mean, how could a team take a chance on that at such a crucial position?
Oh, what's this? The numbers that you put up in a non-BCS conference—garnished with an impressive showing of power not only in your arm, but also your legs—puts you in position for the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the most storied franchises in the history of professional sports, to pick you 11th overall in the NFL amateur draft.
Still, speculation from nearly everyone—excluding then-Coach Bill Cowher, who anointed you a future franchise quarterback—had you start your rookie season as a third-stringer behind ex-XFLer Tommy Maddox and ex-Lion Charlie Batch (talk about good company).
Then a preseason injury to Batch and an early season injury to Maddox—second game, to be exact—has you prime for your first career NFL action a mere eight months removed from the previous biggest game of your career: the 2003 GMAC Bowl.
Then, without a struggle, you immediately go 13-0 to finish your first NFL regular season. You lose in the AFC Championship game to eventual Super Bowl champion New England, but in the meantime, you are awarded the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honor—the first quarterback to do so in nearly 35 years.
But wait, doesn't every good performance deserve an encore? Well, sure enough, you lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl win the next season—and follow it up with another one three seasons later.
Not to bad for someone who's only 28 years old, right?
Too bad for Ben Roethlisberger—like so many before him—the quick rise in fame and success was too much for him to handle.
One of the best NFL quarterbacks of the past decade, known for his ability to dodge defensive lineman, linebackers—probably even bullets if you threw them his way—hasn't been able to dodge some idiotic mistakes that he's made since entering the league in 2004.
First, there was the scary news that came in June 2006, only four months removed from the Steelers Super Bowl XL victory, that Roethlisberger was involved in a life-threatening motorcycle accident. Granted, Big Ben wasn't drunk—a common occurrence with late-night vehicular accidents these days—but he wasn't wearing a helmet. Nor did he have a valid Pennsylvania motorcycle license.
The accident left him with a number of fractures to the jaw, two lost and several chipped teeth, and a nine-inch laceration on the back of his head. Adding to the obvious pain was the backlash received from numerous NFL personalities, especially after Kellen Winslow had suffered a similar fate only a year prior to Roethlisberger's accident.
Then, nine months ago, a civil suit was filed by Andrea McNulty, accusing Big Ben of sexually assaulting her while at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. However, as more evidence surfaced, it seemed more as if McNulty was gold digging than emotionally suffering. Many fans—including me—thought this was another situation similar to the one that faced the Duke men's lacrosse team in 2006.
Then news came today that Roethlisberger once again was being investigated in an allegation of sexual assault at a nightclub in Milledgeville, Ga. Sure, nothing has been proven yet, and no charges have been filed, but it seems that this incident has a little more legs than the previous one.
Either way, two allegations in a matter of a year aren't something to look past.
As it's seen so many times in sports, fame is a costly exuberance that can make mortal men believe that they are inhuman and invincible. Much like Tiger Woods, Roethlisberger experienced such a quick rise to fame at such a young age. After never being in the spotlight until late into his college career, he was a Super Bowl winner and Steeler savior in just two seasons as a professional.
Yet fame, fortune, and a nearly god-like status through the media could make you— much like Roethlisberger, Woods, Josh Hamilton, Kobe Bryant, and the numerous other young athletes of the world—act as if you are the best, most remarkable, most unstoppable presences in humanity.
Then again, isn't it the media that consistently raves about the best, most remarkable, most unstoppable up-and-comers—even while those players are continually getting younger and younger?
Sure, there's no reason that Roethlisberger shouldn't be blamed in full if, in fact, the recent allegations are found out to be true.
But the media has to take light of the picture they paint of today's youth—and what ramifications it may have for that individual down the line.