SI's Cover Story: Roethlisberger Is an Arrogant Punk
Ben Roethlisberger is on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated, but I'm not sure my friend will be framing this week's SI. In a story written by Jack McCallum that carries the headline of "The Hangover," Sports Illustrated spells out the tale of a quarterback who leaves countless people turned off by his arrogance.
If there is good news in the story for Roethlisberger, it's that there isn't much new reporting in this story. McCallum spells out in exacting detail some of the stories of Roethlisberger's feelings of entitlement -- skipping out on paying checks in restaurants, treating women with disrespect and generally acting like a lout -- but all of those stories had already been spelled out in ESPN's Outside The Lines' story on Roethlisberger. The story also gives details of the court case in Las Vegas and the accusations in Milledgeville, but those have been covered everywhere.
The one detail that hasn't been really covered elsewhere is that, just months after Ben Roethlisberger was nearly killed in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, he was caught on video riding his motorcycle again without a helmet. According to SI, the video didn't air only because it was recorded by KDKA-TV, the station which is the flagship station of the Steelers, and they buried it to avoid angering the Steelers (the station denies that such a tape ever existed).
So there are few new allegations against Roethlisberger, but that doesn't really matter. What this story does is reinforces what has become the narrative of Roethlisberger's story: He's an arrogant man who wanders through life asking "don't you know who I am?"
What's most significant is there is no competing narrative by Roethlisberger, his agent or any of his friends. There is no push-back to try to make the argument that Roethlisberger isn't that bad or that the stories are being exaggerated. And without any competing storyline, it's becoming accepted as the unquestioned truth. That doesn't mean that Roethlisberger can't turn his life around, and the argument could be made that having his boorish behavior called out may help push him to change, but it does mean that Roethlisberger has to accept a new role -- that as one of the most despised players in the NFL.
First he has to win back Steelers' fans. He can do that by changing his ways and winning football games, but he also has to know that winning back NFL fans nationally will be an almost impossible task. To do it, there will eventually have to be stories of "Roethlisberger, the changed man" to compete with all the stories of him being a nightmare to be around.