Days before the Ravens/Steelers matchup, the talk was more about the uncertainty concerning whether Ben Roethlisberger would be available to play against Baltimore in light of his “concussion-like” injury. Roethlisberger took the first team snaps in practice for most of the week and then decided to reveal that he would not be playing because of the continuing effects that were possibly related to his injury.
For the sake of the team, Roethlisberger could have handled the situation better. No one should be questioned if they decide not to compete because of an injury. Sometimes the doctors can clear you but even they can be wrong. No one knows your body better than you. It is his motives that are in question.
If he knew that he was not physically able to perform why did he wait until the last minute? I believe Roethlisberger purposely delayed his decision until the 11th hour to inform Dennis Dixon, a QB who had thrown only one NFL pass in his career, that he was going to have to start in what very may well have been one of the most important games of the season.
Flash back to the opening game of 2006 immediately following Roethlisberger’s terrible motorcycle accident. Charlie Batch stood in for him and engineered a fourth quarter comeback that beat the Dolphins 28-17. Batch threw for over 200 yards and three touchdowns. Shortly thereafter Big Ben pleaded to then-Steeler head coach Bill Cowher to be reinstated. We all know the results of that season. They called it a letdown. No Steelers Nation, Big Ben let his team down with his selfishness.
Hit rewind back to 2008. The Steelers were playing the Redskins in D.C. last season on Monday night. Big Ben left the game appearing as if he would be lost for at least a game or two after aggravating a previous shoulder injury. Enter former Steelers backup QB Byron Leftwich (now with Tampa Bay). Leftwich came in to throw 7 of 10 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers defeated the Redskins 23-6.
I recall Ben that night running back onto the field at the beginning of the second half expecting to be put back in but Mike Tomlin shocked everyone and allowed Leftwich to complete the game. Roethlisberger healed very quickly and at that was the end of the Byron Leftwich era in Pittsburgh. Ben will not allow “any” competition to survive in Pittsburgh, none. Roethlisberger thought he was throwing Dennis Dixon under the bus but as Jimi Hendrix would say, Big Ben ended up with “tire tracks across his back.”
Roethlisberger has lost the Steelers locker room. I don’t care what they say publicly. They may toe the company line but Big Big Ben has blown it. When your favorite receiver (Hines Ward) does not adamantly defend you on your decision not to compete then but in a post-game interview is forced to defend his honesty, you know there is a problem. When asked whether Big Ben would have been the difference in the game Ward said, “I don’t know.”
After Plaxico Burress departed for the Big Apple, Big Ben publicly lamented that he “[preferred] a taller wide receiver. “That being said, after all the abuse that Ward has suffered in the attempt to pull in many of Roethlisberger’s errant and ill-advised thrown passes, that comment itself was a slap in the face to Ward, who, in regards to the numbers, is the greatest wide receiver in Steeler history. Did Big Ben lobby for the Steelers to draft the now infamous “big” wide receiver Limas Sweed who appears for all intents and purposes to possibly be a second round bust?
The powers-that-be have attempted to build a franchise around Roethlisberger, but a general who leaves his soldiers in the middle of a conflict floundering and battle weary is not to be trusted. I have a sneaking suspicion that if the Steelers would have been scheduled to play the Lions or the Browns last Sunday night somehow, someway Roethlisberger would have been out there padding his numbers.
Was Big Ben “yellow?” In my opinion he was. I don’t care what anyone else says. Why did he even dress? Was it because the national cameras were rolling? How many stomach churning, vomit inducing television shots were plastered across the television sets of America showing Roethlisberger being benevolent and “coaching” Dixon after Dixon and the offense had returned to the sidelines? Big Ben’s “interference” on the sidelines seemed to be more of a distraction than a help.
Someone noted that the Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians had asked Dixon what his favorite 15 plays were. Well, 14 of them should have been quarterback draws. Why would Arians call such a pass play in overtime with Pittsburgh at that point on the field? I will conclude by saying this; “I smell a rat and it surely is not ‘Speedy Gonzales.’