The Transformation of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

June 12, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws the ball during minicamp at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Gone is the six-game (reduced to four, in classic Goodellian style) suspension for uncharged accusations of sexual assault for Steelers 30-year-old QB Ben Roethlisberger.

Here is a marriage, a degree from Miami University and a child due sometime probably during the season.

It almost seems as of Roethlisberger is following a different kind of playbook now. One aimed at restoring his image, once tainted and possibly irrevocably altered.

Do we buy it?

It's a valid question, considering, as Tribune-Review writer Mark Kaboly points out, it wasn't long ago Roethlisberger graced the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline "The Hangover: Ben Roethlisberger - An NFL superstar's repulsive behavior, the ultimate expression of athletic entitlement run amok, has forced even the most diehard fans to question their team and their football faith." It drove a permanent wedge between naive idol-worship and cold reality of human nature for an entire generation of Steelers fans.

Even the reminder of the story suggests it's still fresh in the collective mind of Steeler Nation. While certainly one can see optimism in his decision to finish his degree (now that he has, he'll be inducted into Miami's athletic Hall of Fame) and start a family, does this somehow make Roethlisberger a better person, in our eyes? Is it even our place to judge?

It's fair to say no one would suggest doing the things he's accused of doing are within his rights in any way, but should his apparent pursuit of the picket-fenced house with family lifestyle a la Norman Rockwell make people like him more?

Ben Roethlisberger is as famous as he is because of his ability to play a game. I'll never be one to suggest that kind of fame does not have its place in society, nor will I rail against American culture's need to place people doing what he does on a pedestal. The struggle between class differentiation will never go away, we have decades upon decades of entertainers to prove that.

I wish the Roethlisbergers well with their child, their marriage, their health and their happiness. It's tough for me to feel his ability (desire?) to achieve that makes him any more of a hero than his football accomplishments do. It seems mutually exclusive. While some married people may argue keeping a healthy, honest marriage alive is harder than throwing a football with Justin Smith draped on his back, I'd just as soon leave them in the separate worlds where they currently reside.


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