Frank Doyle wonders if Ben Roethlisberger’s future in the NFL itself is in jeopardy in the light of latest revelations.
Ben Roethlisberger must have thought he was in clear when the Georgia DA dropped the charges against him at the start of this week. Once the danger of criminal prosecution had passed, Roethlisberger could reasonably assume that he could take whatever punishment Roger Goodell or Art Rooney threw at him.
But as more and more revelations appear about the controversial Steelers quarterback, his very future in the NFL has to be called into question.
In Roethlisberger’s favor a man with a future in the NFL is the fact that of the much hyped NFL Draft Class of ’04, Roethlisberger is clearly the best. He’s got two rings already, and he’s only twenty-eight years old. Eli Manning has a ring too, but he’ll always be in the shadow of Peyton. Philip Rivers hasn’t even got to the Super Bowl, and there’s no guarantee – none – that he’ll be able to change that. Ask Dan Fouts.
But Roethlisberger is different. Roethlisberger is a natural quarterback, with all the gifts. He can throw it, he can hold his own in the pocket, he can take his licks and show his line that he’s not afraid, he can engineer drives, he can lead men, he can even make a tackle on a potential pick-six that saves a Super Bowl season.
And that’s the job security Roethlisberger enjoys. Even if the Steelers wanted to trade him, they can’t, because any other team instantly sees its NFL odds being instantly slashed if Roethlisberger straps on the helmet.
Imagine Roethlisberger at Cleveland. Wearing silver and black at Oakland. Being a Seahawk, a Cardinal, a Panther or a Bear. There are any number of teams that would sign him, and that’s why the Steelers can’t trade him. Because Roethlisberger will make any team better and, in the closed system of the NFL, that then automatically makes the Steelers worse.
But that may change. The Pittsburgh blog Behind the Steel Curtain is quoting a Boston attorney who claims that Roethlisberger has a history of these sort of incidents, which means that the number of teams who would consider signing Roethlisberger diminishes rapidly and substantially. Roethlisberger’s talents as a quarterback may be comprised by the fact that his liberty may be confined as a result of serious criminal prosecution.
No quarterback has ever been able to lead a team to glory from a jail cell, which is exactly where Roethlisberger could end up if one of his accusers decides she’s had enough of being treated like the open buffet at the River City State Fair and decides its time Big Ben was taken down for once and for all.
If Roethlisberger thinks the Steelers can’t do without him he’s making a very big mistake. If that’s the decision the Steelers finally come to, it’s Madison Avenue against a nine dollar bill that every other team in the League has decided that Roethlisberger’s personal failings outweigh his football ability.
Former Steeler quarterback and Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw wondered during the week if Roethlisberger ever stopped to think if the same attention would be paid to him if he weren’t an NFL quarterback. Roethlisberger is on the verge of finding out. Just how dumb can one guy be?