Ben Roethlisberger had a private meeting with Roger Goodell.  No assaults were reported, but Ben emerged smoking a cigarette.

Man What Are You Doin’ Here? 

                I’m all in favor of drinking beer, singing bar songs and generally having a good time making a fool of yourself.  Believe you me, I’m not going to be the first to cast my kidney stone at that.  But Big Ben was supposedly doing everything in his power to win friends and influence the people who thought he was some semi-psychotic, megalomaniac with a bent toward drinking and assaulting women, most notably the drunk 19 year old co-ed in Milledgeville, Georgia.  Yesterday, he was seen in a bar drinking rum and singing, “Piano Man” by Billy Joel.   There’s a particularly pertinent line in that song that says, “Man what are you doin’ here?”  That is the million dollar question and the unavoidable answer is that he was howling at the moon like the slack jawed, half-marrowed fool that he is. 

                For a regular guy who didn’t get injured in a motorcycle accident and then say he would keep riding without a helmet, a guy who hadn’t been accused of sexually assaulting a hotel employee in Tahoe, a guy who hadn’t asked a couple of his hired goons to guard the door while he took a young girl into the bathroom for nefarious purposes, a guy who hadn’t publicly stated a few months earlier he understood that he had to change his ways, a guy who hadn’t been suspended for 6 games for behavior that resulted from drinking alcohol in a bar, a guy who wasn’t a few days from the Super Bowl with the entire nation watching his every move, a guy who’s head wasn’t on the Steeler Nation chopping block (though they granted him a stay of execution just long enough to win them another Super Bowl), a guy who wasn’t almost run out of Pittsburgh by one of the most respected families in the NFL, going to a piano bar and having a few diet Cuba Libre’s (ironically enough the Matriculator’s libation of choice), is not a big deal.  If it was, we would have some very thick newspapers.  Ben promised he was going to change his ways. He said he had had an epiphany after he nearly lost his freedom and his job.  He had an epiphany alright, he had Epiphany Proudfoot the night before at the hotel room in New Orleans which means he didn't technically lie when he said he had "an Epiphany."  The reporters should have realized he meant Epiphany with a capital "E."

                If Ben had gone to a restaurant and had some chicken fricassee and a beer and then gone back to his room and gone to sleep, as he insinuated with his reply that he was just taking the linemen out in some pre-Super Bowl ritual, that would have been no problem.  But that’s not what happened in spite of Ben’s attempt to spin it that way.  That response, after all he has been through, shows beyond any doubt that he is a sociopath in the Roger Clemens' mold.  Look at how Roger Clemens handled questions about his steroid use, and you’ll see that he denied it every way possible, even though he certainly took steroids.  And he thought everyone would, or more poignantly, should, believe what he said because he was Roger Clemens.  Milledgeville is home to Georgia's largest state mental facility.  Ben probably should have just checked in instead of heading home.

                We suspect that this would be Ben’s final game as a Steeler were it not for the labor uncertainty that will likely preclude them from trading him this off-season.  The Rooney’s are legit, and they don’t want losers, even losers who are winners, tarnishing their brand as the popular phrase goes. They probably don’t want their daughters assaulted in the tunnel after the game by a big drunken ogre either.

                There is also a report that Hines Ward and Ike “The Touchdown Maker” Taylor were at a strip club this week.  We don’t know whether it is true or not, but Ward apparently told a reporter it was “None of your business”, which is generally not the response of a person who had not been to a strip club the night before. Ike reportedly said to Chastity while in the VIP room, "Show me your playbook girl."  Hines high fived him and immediatley said, "I'm going to practice my post pattern on you baby," which resulted in uncontrollable laughter between the two. The Steelers, shockingly, look like a bunch of amateurs.  They are supposed to be the grizzled veterans who know how to handle all the distractions by laying low.  Could this be a meltdown similar to the one the Falcons had in 2000 when the players apparently spent too much time in shorts that didn’t belong to them?             

                 Big Ben and his band of merry men might win another Super Bowl in spite of their apparent lack of focus and professionalism.  You don’t have to be a monk to be a great football player (unless you're Art Monk, then you are both a Monk and a great football player) and there is in fact probably a more inverse relationship between the two.  We may see Ben crying and saying his prayers like he did after the AFC Championship.  It’s an Eminence Front.  It’s a put on.  You can’t buy love and you can’t become a winner in the game of life by prevailing in a sporting event.  He had his second and third and fourth chances and he has repeatedly dropped the ball.  If sport mirrors life, as some say, he will have a crucial turnover that costs the Steelers the game.  Whether he hoists the Lombardi Trophy or not, he’s losing in the only game more important than the Super Bowl. 

For our Steelers Lose the Super Bowl prediction, check out Meaty, Beaty, Big and Pouncey.

February 3, 2011