I was watching what everyone in the sporting community believes will be Ben Roeslithberger's last game in Pittsburgh. After eighteen years, the Steelers quarterback is hanging up his cleats and heading out to do whatever it is that quarterbacks do when they stop being quarterbacks. Except this guy won't have to worry about buying a steak dinner in Steel Town. In a career that spanned nearly twenty years, he took his team to the Super Bowl three times, winning two of them. The teams he has played with in Pittsburgh have never finished under 500. They have never had a losing season.
There are a lot of sports fans who would love to have that statistic in their back pocket if it were to apply to their favorite team.
And yet, there were those who believe Old Ben may have stuck around a little too long. It was this legend's appearance in the lineup that kept the franchise from moving on. The NFL is an entertainment business, and just getting by doesn't sell three hundred dollar souvenir jerseys. Nonetheless, at the ripe old age of thirty-nine years old, Ben Roethlisberger will be unleashed on the unsuspecting public with nothing to do on Sunday afternoons but count his money and wait for a call from the Hall of Fame. After two decades of being tossed around like a great big tackling dummy, there's not a lot left for him to prove, and his legacy will be paying off for years to come. He might put his name on a car dealership, or in front of that steakhouse where he won't be paying for those steaks.
All of which is to say that he is now and will continue to be a sports hero. And he made a victory lap after he took his last snap at Heinz Field Monday night, soaking in the adoration and love from a city that worships its sports heroes. In a country that loves its sports heroes.
Of course, nowhere in the mix of all this adoration was there any mention of the six game suspension he received from the NFL back in 2010 for "violating the league's personal conduct policy." This was for a case that didn't go to trial involving a twenty year old co-ed at a Georgia nightclub. That suspension was later lowered to just four games, probably once prosecutors declined to pursue the matter. Back then, the Pittsburgh Steelers were looking to unload their star quarterback just in case. Just in case he didn't straighten up and fly right.
We can assume that the now thirty-something woman from Georgia who was assaulted did not attend Ben's farewell.