In 1939, Sid Luckman, a future Hall of Fame quarterback, was available when the second pick of Round One was deliberated by the Pittsburgh Steelers. George Halas, shrewd owner and coach of the Chicago Bears, talked Art Rooney into trading that second pick for a fellow named Ed Manske. Luckman went on to revolutionize the T-formation, win four championships and break a book-full of records. Manske played one nondescript season for Pittsburgh. In the mid-50s, the Steelers drafted John Unitas and then cut him before the season began. A year later, they drafted Len Dawson, with Jimmy Brown still on the board, only to unceremoniously dispatch him as well. In 1983, Pittsburgh passed on Dan Marino. To be fair, other teams did also, but Marino was a local star who played both high school and college ball in Pittsburgh. Just prior to the draft, rumors about Marino's character (street drugs) were rampant, causing the Steelers to overreact. Interestingly, all of these blunders involved legendary quarterbacks
On this the day of the 2010 draft, will the Pittsburgh Steelers overreact again and cost themselves yet another Hall of Fame quarterback? It puzzles me that people nationally are now talking about why the Steelers should trade Big Ben. Where would he go? Why is it unacceptable for Pittsburgh to have Roethlisberger on its roster, yet somehow acceptable for the team that trades for him? The Ivy League learned many years ago that you do not stay in business with other teams who accept different types of people. You either stay in that system and live like the others, or get out and be on your own level. The Ivies decided to live on a lower level and not compete in playoffs. That's fine, but where are the Steelers supposed to go? As long as the Steelers remain in the NFL, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
And mind you, the Steelers are paying a heavy, heavy price for Ben's poor judgment. They are playing without a franchise quarterback for four games, having been the first NFL player ever to be suspended without being charged or convicted of anything illegal. Moreover, they must get through the next five months playing musical chairs with quarterbacks. Haven't we paid enough already?
The facts of March 4 have been greatly argued and disputed for the last six weeks. Because of a pending civil suit, Ben's side of things remains buried under lock and key. The only side that has come out is the police report provided by a young women with a staggering .27 alcohol level, wearing a sexually suggestive button, having followed and flirted with Ben for hours. The girl was able to speak the next day and file her report. At varying points the girl claimed there was no sex, yes sex and maybe sex. That pretty much covers the gamut of .27. Meanwhile, Ben was told to shut it down for legal reasons. Thus, only one side has been presented. With only one side out there, the sentiment is badly skewed against Ben.
Don't get me wrong folks. Ben made numerous mistakes in judgment on March 4 and probably many times prior. A $100 million franchise quarterback needs to grow up, stay out of college bars, avoid being involved in shots of Patron with 20-year olds, and under no circumstance connect sexually with a drunken college girl in a skanky bathroom. You've got to be better than that. You've got to be older than that. I am just as disappointed as anyone in Steeler Nation. Our image took a hit, no question.
But enough is enough. This man is being treated by many as if he were Charles Manson. People talk about that 20-year old as "what if that was your daughter." What about the flip side? What if Ben was your son? Would you dis-own him? If your own child makes a mistake, do you take him to an adoption agency? Or would you sit him down, have a heart-to-heart talk and move on. Ben Roethlisberger now has the opportunity to show the world that he can grow and mature. For the last six weeks, perhaps no human being never charged with a crime has ever been as punished and vilified as Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers need to give Big Ben a chance for us to be proud of his future. Time will heal the pain that Steelers Nation feels right now. And who knows, the day may come when we are proud of his maturation process, and proud that we stuck by him during his darkest days when his behavior didn't warrant that pride.