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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Roethlisberger seems sincere, but who knows?

    Bernie Miklasz Wednesday, February 2, 2011 12:40 am

    DALLAS Ben Roethlisberger is trying. Really, really trying. On the surface, the smile is a bit plastic. The personality makeover seems contrived. He's so unfailingly polite and eager to please, you wonder if we're watching an Oscar-winning actor or a Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

    Big Ben as Gentle Ben.

    Are we buying?

    "He's worked really hard to be a better person and a better teammate," said Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel, one of Roethlisberger's closest friends on the team. "I'm not saying that he was a bad guy before. But he's really tried to do things differently, and I'm really proud of him."

    You want to believe in Roethlisberger. You want to believe that Roethlisberger is the proverbial changed man, scared straight by the four-game suspension levied by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell before the start of the 2010 season.

    You want to believe he isn't the brute who twice was accused of forcing himself on women. You want to believe he isn't the rude superstar who alienated teammates, fans and Pittsburgh business owners with his boorish behavior and a warped sense of self-entitlement.

    "I feel like I've grown up a lot," Roethlisberger told Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook. "I don't know how to say this without 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.'

    "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.

    "It would be amazing to win another Super Bowl, but it won't be like I'll say, 'Do you forgive me now?' It'll just be another step in earning back everything I've lost."

    Roethlisberger pleasantly and patiently repeated those themes Tuesday in a static-free, hour-long Media Day session at Cowboys Stadium. Really, he couldn't have been nicer. Either that or he's been impressively coached up by a talented image consultant.

    Roethlisberger certainly said all of the right things. He frequently mentioned his recommitment to God and his desire to lead the kind of life that his parents raised him to lead. Recently engaged, he expressed his desire to start a family.

    "I want to be someone who people will look up to," Roethlisberger said. "I want to be the best husband and father I can be, and, someday, the best grandfather, and that all begins with faith."

    Looking back on the last year of his life, Roethlisberger said, "I've had a lot of apologizing to do. I had to apologize to the Rooneys (the Steelers' owners), I had to apologize to the fans. I had to apologize to the press. I wasn't always the nicest guy. I can admit that."

    And Roethlisberger has taken his appeal, via prayer, to a higher source. "To have ultimate forgiveness is awesome," he said.

    At one point Roethlisberger paused teary-eyed and choked up while answering a question about the late Terry Hoeppner, his coach at Miami of Ohio.

    This is Roethlisberger's third trip to the Super Bowl. He's 2-0. And he still plays like a bully, using his imposing physical presence and strength to ward off tacklers and make big throws downfield. Roethlisberger's game is the same and he'll hit the Packers with it in Super Bowl XLV. But underneath all of that competitive heat is a gentler soul, according to the QB. And that, he insists, is the difference between his first two Super Bowls and now.

    "Just being calmer," Roethlisberger said. "Just waking up and counting your blessings. Just thanking God for letting you wake up and enjoy the day. How many people ever get this opportunity? This could be my last time to ever sit on this podium in front of you guys and if it is, it is. That's what the plan is supposed to be."

    Honestly, this could all be valid. People do change. And if this is true with Roethlisberger, then he's to be commended. The thing is, we just don't know. How could we? He's a stranger. We're not in his family or inner circle. We don't see him when he goes home at night. We aren't privy to his private moments. Ultimately, his actions over many years will determine if this is real change, or just a staged transformation.

    If Roethlisberger is following a script, it's a familiar one. An athlete screws up terribly, feels the consequences, takes stock of himself, looks in the mirror and makes the necessary steps to improve. And maybe he confesses to Oprah on national TV. But usually all is forgiven. Well, at least as long as you win.

    It's no surprise that Roethlisberger called Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis for advice. Roethlisberger was impressed by how Lewis rehabbed his reputation after being implicated in a double murder in 2000. (Lewis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice after agreeing to testify against two acquaintances.)

    Several months after settling the legal mess, Lewis was the MVP of the Super Bowl. His popularity was on a fast-track comeback. NFL Films frequently wires Lewis for sound during games, and he's portrayed as a proud, dedicated football warrior everything a football player should be. And that's why you see Lewis in commercials as a pitchman for Old Spice deodorant.

    Message: America loves winners. You want redemption? Just win, baby. Tiger Woods isn't there yet. Woods hasn't been able to restore his golf game, so he can't restore his image.

    That's why Roethlisberger is off to an impressive start in the redemption sweepstakes. He's doing valuable advance work by getting the media to go with the appealing story.

    The next stage is capturing another championship. And if the Steelers defeat the Packers, Roethlisberger will join Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman and Tom Brady as the only quarterbacks to win at least three Super Bowls. Roethlisberger's postseason record is 10-2. He's an established big-game hunter.

    But Roethlisberger politely defers when asked about joining the most exclusive club of three-time Super Bowl-champion quarterbacks.

    "I don't put myself there," he said. "They're too good."

    That's what we want: humble.

    Roethlisberger also said that Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers would be the best quarterback on the field Sunday.

    There you go, a double serving of humble pie.

    Tuesday went very well for Roethlisberger. He even had a heart-to-heart talk with Bradshaw, who has been critical of Roethlisberger's conduct. They talked it out and ended their feud.

    "We both came to a conclusion that we're Steelers and we're part of that family," said Bradshaw, the NFL analyst for Fox. "I encouraged him. And yesterday is yesterday. I got his back and I support him 100 percent."

    On the Redemption Tour, Gentle Ben is winning them over, one at a time.


  2. #2
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Roethlisberger seems sincere, but who knows?

    Blah, blah, blah.

    If my daughter finds herself in a bar with Ben Roethlisberger in a few years, my advice to her would be to stay far far away from him.

    I don't care what the guy says when a camera is in front of him.

    The sports media really needs to learn the difference between "winning games" and "redemption."

  3. #3
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    Re: Roethlisberger seems sincere, but who knows?

    Don't believe a word that comes out of his mouth.

  4. #4
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    Re: Roethlisberger seems sincere, but who knows?

    I'll believe it when I see it.

  5. #5
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    Re: Roethlisberger seems sincere, but who knows?

    Maybe Bernie wants to believe it. I have no such inclination. Personally, I'm more interested in the stories where the guy grows up before his PR guy tells him how much damage he has done to the value of his personal brand name.

  6. #6
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    Re: Roethlisberger seems sincere, but who knows?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
    Don't believe a word that comes out of his mouth.
    What if here were to say the sun is bright?

    Kidding of course, Ben has been coached to appear better, the only thing that has changed is his public behavior, and that is just because he got caught. He's still a sexual predator in my mind.

  7. #7
    Flippin' Ram's Avatar
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    Re: Roethlisberger seems sincere, but who knows?

    Once a Roethlispervert, always a Roethlispervert.

  8. #8
    Keenum's Avatar
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    Re: Roethlisberger seems sincere, but who knows?

    The only way he is really going to be able to prove himself and win the public back over is with time. If he can stay out of trouble for a few years, I think he will win back a large part of the masses.
    And of course, if we want to admit it or not, if he can keep winning his image will improve. Is it right? No, but that's just the way it seems to be.

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