Ben Bounces Back ….Wednesday Cup O’Super Bowl

From Arlington, Texas

I got there early. The clock was making a slow crawl towards noon on Tuesday and I wanted to be in a decent enough position to be able to hear what Ben Roethlisberger had to say.

It was Tuesday, it was Media Day at the Super Bowl and if there was one thing in the last week that the Pittsburgh quarterback had to be dreading in anticipation it was his one-hour with the media horde.

Media Day is a different type of experience for the players and coaches of the teams competing in the Super Bowl. There’s no idea from one moment to the next what type of question that will fired at players and coaches. There’s seldom anything off-limits and in this day and age of the instant media more than one hairdo and TV camera, or ink-stained wretch from the dying print media was going to load up and fire questions in Roethlisberger’s direction involving his problems in Georgia last year that led to his four-game suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Ordinarily, this type of affair would not interest me in the least. Big Ben did his time in the NFL pokey and was back in the Super Bowl for the third time he’s been to the title game in six seasons. All I wanted to see is what he did on the field. His boorish behavior, his thoughts on the turmoil in Egypt, his prediction for the current labor situation were of no interest. I figured Roethlisberger’s agent and his marketing people had probably prepped him in the last week for just about anything.

But my peeps in Pittsburgh say that Roethlisberger has really tried to change his attitude with everyone, from fans to teammates, even to the media. Surly and uncooperative had been replaced by helpful and available. Since he returned from the suspension at the start of the season, he’s tried to mend his fences.

This I had to see. If anything would test Roethlisberger’s changed attitude and behavior it would be an hour of answering the same questions over and over again. It drives players and coaches crazy even when they aren’t trying to run away from some transgression.

So I got there early … but no early enough. Already the media was five deep around the platform and podium where Roethlisberger would speak. There were at least two dozen television mini-cams and a host of other bodies all jockeying for position. And it was still eight minutes until noon.

The crowd grew and some of the camera guys broke out their kitchen stools. It’s a must have tool in covering these types of things. Bring the step stool from home and that gives the guys with the view finders some elevation.

By the time the clock struck noon, there were 50-plus people surrounding the podium, in a space that was made for about half that many. The overflow ended up in the area where LB James Farrior was speaking and few were listening.

Finally, a media sea was parted and Roethlisberger stepped up to the platform, sat down behind the microphone and smiled. What followed was memorable only because it wasn’t memorable. Here are the highlights:

“I’m enjoying the opportunity to play in another Super Bowl because you never know when it’s going to be your last one.”

“When you have an understanding with what you want to do in life and the bigger pictures, like life, family and faith. I think that’s the peace that I’m talking about.”

“Every day you wake up there’s always challenges that face you and it’s how can you start your day and go throughout your day with the challenges that face you, whatever it is. Everyone has different challenges, whether it’s illness, family issues, whatever it is. Every day challenges are always the hard thing.”

“People ask you ‘what do you want on your obituary, your tombstone?’ And I think, you know just to sit there and somebody to say that he’s a good person, a God-fearing person that was loyal to his family and put family first, family and God first and enjoyed the way that he played the game of football, enjoyed football and just lived every day like it was his last.”

“I love playing football. I love doing it, I love being around these guys and I wanted to try to get to this stage for those guys, for the Rooney’s, for the fans. For me the easy part was playing football.”

When I finally had enough after 33 minutes – Roethlisberger was doing pretty well. He still had a smile on his face. He replied to every question thrown his way and even answered a few.

As for his troubles, he steered clear of providing anything revealing. He didn’t lose his temper or look flustered at all. The only time his demeanor changed was when he was several times asked questions about his college coach Terry Hoeppner who died several years ago from a brain tumor. That’s when his voice choked and tears welled up in his eyes.

“I talk to him every game, literally every game I will talk to him,” Roethlisberger said. “I miss him a lot.”

No explosions, no frustrations, no snapping off answers, but also very little insight into whether the bad boy QB has come through his troubles and become a mature man.

But he did provide a window to those thoughts before his boots hit terra firma in Dallas. Speaking last week with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook, Roethlisberger opened a window into his current psyche.

“I don’t know how to say this without it sounding really bad, but I used to tell my dad and my agent and my closest friends, ‘If I can win a Super Bowl or two or three, nobody can say anything to me. I can do anything I want’,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s just stupid. I know that now. That’s what I mean about growing up. I realize now that I can use the platform I’ll have for something good. If I can win a third Super Bowl with this team, can you imagine the possibilities? That’s what I’m excited about.

“It would be amazing to win another Super Bowl, but it won’t be like I’ll say, ‘Do you forgive me now?’” Roethlisberger said. “It’ll just be another step in earning back everything I lost.”

There remain plenty of roads that Big Ben must travel if he’s going to convince everyone – including himself – he’s learned from his despicable behavior and grown up.


  • ASSOCIATES PRESS – named Patriots QB Tom Brady as the NFL’s offensive player of the year. Brady received 21 of the 50 first-place votes. Eagles QB Michael Vick had 11 votes and Texans RB Arian Foster finished with seven votes. Chargers QB Phillip Rivers received five votes and Falcons WR Roddy White, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Eagles WR DeSean Jackson each received two votes.
  • PANTHERS – named former WR Ricky Proehl as offensive consultant on the coaching staff of Ron Rivera.
  • RAIDERS – named Chuck Bresnahan linebackers coach.
  • RAVENS – re-signed P Sam Koch to a 5-year contract.

2 Responses to “Ben Bounces Back ….Wednesday Cup O’Super Bowl”

  • February 2, 2011  - Butler Go CHIEFS Go says:

    •WR Cris Carter-No
    •RB Marshall Faulk-Yes
    •OT Willie Roaf-Yes
    •DB Deion Sanders-YES
    •NFL Films pioneer Ed Sabol-Yes

  • February 2, 2011  - joe lasky says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more about wanting to see the players play and the hell with the rest of it. I do however see how people more concerned with mellow drama and less with the beauty and intensity of the game will find Ben’s blunders more interesting.
    Being from Pittsburgh you can understand me saying, Don’t bring us down. Let us enjoy the Super Bowl. Save the other crap (can I say crap?) for after the game.
    Give us a Super Bowl break. Haven’t the Pirates made us suffer enough?
    Next week I don’t care if they post ten reporters and a surveillance helicopter around his house. But this week let’s talk football.
    I know writers need to cover what’s news but I hope the news I hear this week is about the biggest game of year being played by two of the best organizations ever in the NFL.

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