The Steelers, Big Ben and Responsibility

Well, I’ve been kind of off the grid for the past several days. And here’s why. After more than 30 years of getting up almost every day around 3 a.m. I’ve been trying to sleep a little later — and longer. That’s not working very well for a variety of reasons. But beyond the sleep issues, it’s interesting to me how much of a routine I am in and how difficult it is to change behavior. The point: I’m programmed to write early a.m. and if I miss that window by even a few hours, I can’t manage to find the time or enthusiasm to do it. Go figure.

So today I’m back. I managed to get up around 3, scan the Internet, quaff a pot of coffee, and hit the concrete for a few miles with the temp nearly 60 degrees. And I was thinking about a subject that I consider here often: responsibility.

I grew up in Pittsburgh and have been a lifelong Steelers fan. But I don’t follow pro football much these days except when the playoffs start in late fall and even then only if the Steelers are in contention. And I expect that I couldn’t name more than two or three players on the team these days. One is Ben Roethlisberger. Sigh.

I expect that most know the story about Roethlisberger and the “incident” with a college student in Milledgeville, Ga. The district attorney didn’t bring charges — but that didn’t end the story. Nor should it.

We’re now talking about taking responsibility for personal actions — and regaining trust. And in saying that, I am not downplaying the seriousness of the criminal allegations. But here’s why I believe this situation is even more compelling than most. It’s not just Big Ben who needs to demonstrate responsibility and regain trust. The Steelers as an organization will have to do so as well.

I’ve long believed that the integrity and leadership of the Rooney family contributed to the successes that the team has enjoyed now for the better part of the last four decades. That well-deserved image and reputation is in play now. And the Steelers recognize it. Here’s from an article this morning in USAToday:

Steelers president Art Rooney II publicly scolded Ben Roethlisberger on Thursday and said he intends to impose discipline on the the quarterback at some point after the draft.

“I’ve made it clear to Ben that his conduct in this incident did not live up to our standards,” Rooney said. “There will be consequences for his actions.”

And more:

Rooney also said it was “in the best interests” of the Steelers to trade WR Santonio Holmes to the Jets this week. Holmes, who was accused of — and denied — assault last month in Florida, had been suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse program.

The two controversies have taken a toll on the Steelers. “In terms of our image, certainly I feel like we’ve taken a hit,” Rooney said. “But an image is built over time.”

Rooney said he hopes there’s “a lot of good will left” among Steelers fans.

But he added that he’s “very concerned with how fans view the situation” and said the Steelers must earn back trust.

OK, we’ll see. But clearly we’re not talking now just about football wins and losses. We’re looking at some bigger issues: trust and responsibility.


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