Bernstein: Football Does Not ‘Redeem’ Roethlisberger

By Dan Bernstein–

Let’s get one thing straight, first: Ben Roethlisberger did some bad things. The knee-jerk yelp of “he was never charged with anything!” is meaningless, when we consider the facts of the two publicized cases, the NFL’s own investigation of his behavior, and the quarterback’s stated contrition.

Roethlisberger said he regretted his actions, and vowed to change his behavior. Had he done nothing wrong, there would be nothing to regret and no reason to change.

He is trying to rehabilitate his image, talking about wanting to be a role model, and smiling forcedly through interviews in the pre-Super-Bowl beehive.

As his post-suspension return to the field has grown into a return to the biggest stage in sports, we hear of his “redemption” in multiple headlines and stories, as if achievement between the lines has anything whatsoever to do with his behavior in nightclubs and bars.

It doesn’t, of course, yet it remains the easy story to fabricate – touchdown passes and trophies somehow counterbalancing his attempts to force himself on women.

It’s like taking two scores from different games in different sports and juxtaposing them as a credible result. Nobody would buy that except the irretrievably stupid, or those wanting to believe only so they can untangle conflicted rooting interests.

Roethlisberger was a good quarterback, was exposed as a predatory scumbag, and remains a good quarterback. He’s good at his job, and nobody should be surprised. Michael Vick is still good at his job, too.

Bad people have jobs, and may even be good at them. These are separate things.

It just so happens that Roethlisberger’s job is spotlighted and celebrated. Millions of people want him to succeed at work, so they get confused. If, for example, he hung drywall for a living, it would be clear to see that a return to the successful hanging of drywall does nothing to obviate other actions.

Were he a carpenter, would we be so quick to want to say “He may have violated those girls and all, but look at the detail on these shelves! Now everything’s ok!”

Comments from teammates, coaches and fans miss the point, too, both in their content and continued use by soft-skulled media to illustrate a fallacy. All in it together, their only vested interest is on-field success. We simply don’t need to hear from them on this issue.

The redemption theme in sports and entertainment is common, and is a result of emotional discomfort. There seems to be a fundamental need to eliminate the cognitive dissonance we experience when spending so much time wanting bad guys to do well. We all know it at varying levels of awareness, and feel it more keenly at different times as we pay attention to athletes, singers and actors.

We want to like our favorite teams, and like the people on them. But that doesn’t mean it’s right to make things up.

Some people are better than others at forming distinct channels of thought that allow for sports to be enjoyed while still understanding the truth about the people involved.

Those clear thinkers find the football-as-redemption idea offensive.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: Football Does Not Redeem Roethlisberger

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM.
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  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Now Rapelisberger says he wants to be a “role model”.
    A little late for that Ben.

    • AT3374

      When I heard Tom Jackson mentioned that on NFL live after the bears packers game , I said to myself I am never watching that show again . Espn should be ashamed of themselves , but judging from their past situations with their staff , I guess not

      • Jay's Insulin Pump

        Great post AT. The staff situation at ESPN almost encourages this type of behavior.

        Remember when the whole Big Ben situation first came out? Every news outlet on the planet reported on it. Except ESPN. They never reported it, pretended it didn’t happen. They even warned their writers and on-air personalities to not speak of it. So, it was a non-story then, and now it’s a redemption story? Who are they cr@ppin’?

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Booyah has no shame, they are a marketing machine, period.
        That was the story line they wanted to market/manufacture, so some producer briefed TJ on what to say.

    • Harry's Phlegm

      He can still be a “role model” (although I don’t think any athlete should truly be a role model if one does a good job of parenting). But he can be a role model for those trying to change their life around. IF he is sincere. And only time will tell.

      How he plays football means nothing to me and it is not a factor. How he lives his life going forward is.

      • Jay's Insulin Pump

        Wool, meet eyes.

      • Jay's Insulin Pump

        Good point, Larry. On that same note, some of the best human beings I know are complete idiots. It’s unfortunate, but Ben actually seems like a pretty smart dude. He sure was working everybody in that press conference yesterday. It would be nice to see him appreciate the chance to be there after all he’s been through. Pretty much the exact opposite of humble.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Very well-said JIP.

        I would also say that Vick is a genuinely stupid guy who got caught up with a bunch of stupid guys………..

      • Jay's Insulin Pump

        I understand what you’re trying to say, and that may work for someone who is actually a good person that made a mistake. Everyone who talks about Michael Vick says that he is a genuinely nice guy who got caught up with stupid people. So can he “be a role model for those trying to change their life around”? Sure, why not?

        Big Ben? I say no. He really is a waste of life. Even if he never raped anyone, he is still a horrible human being. I mean, he’s won 2 (soon to be 3) Super Bowls with a lot of the same teammates. You would think that kind of thing would be a bonding experience, but they all hate him. Why? Because they KNOW him.

    • TB Doodlers

      Maybe he wants to be a role model for sexual predators? He is right on time for that…?

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Excellent point.
        He has a lot of experience and technique to model.

    • Denver Deadite

      He has also fallen back on the ol’ cliche of invoking God, as if that also washes away the crimes he should have been charged for.

      Sadly, there are a lot of pathetic excuses of human beings playing football. It’s about all they can do because nobody else would take ’em.

  • Murph

    Danny Boy, it’s time you get off your high horse. And when you do, don’t forget to come on down and see my guy Jack Pheeeelan!

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Bernsie- nail on the head. If he regretted his actions, then his actions were something he shouldn’t have done. He didn’t qualify it by saying “I regret putting myself in a situation where I could be unjustifiably accused of sexual assault”. He never pleaded his innocence. He just tried to move forward and make people forget. If you were wrongly accused of rape, raise holy hell, Ben!

    At least Vick seems to want to redeem himself. Big Western PA Rapist just wants it to inevitably blow over.


    And, just another reason why this Superbowl has a bad storyline.

    Just looking at QB talent, how hard is it to find some big lug with a strong arm that simply stands there and chucks the ball?
    Why, oh why, did we ever have Quinn? or the, ironically named Rex Grossman?
    or Jonny Utah?
    I. don’t want. your life.

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    In happier items, did anyone else see the Deadspin headline photog last night? Let’s just say that 1989 was in full effect.

    • Denver Deadite

      White guy!

  • Hibernian

    Thanks, Bernsie. Right on.

  • Dan

    I don’t think what Vick did merited prison. Also, Ben hasn’t been charged with a crime. I suspect this article from Burnsteen is another case of a slow sports media week in a town that doesn’t win championships.


      Well, considering you can get arrested for public intoxication (just walking around).
      Dog fighting used to be widely popular. It, like other forms of gambling, probably got too wound up in racketeering.

      Other illegal activities are, more than likely, tied to dog fighting. Weapons posession, racketeering, money laundering, etc.
      Even creating an attractive nuissance (the same code that prevents northern illinois communities from freezing fields for ice skating–we are getting wimpy.)

      • Jay's Insulin Pump

        How about a million counts of animal cruelty? Aside from the weapons, that was the big one.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      If Big Ben were innocent, he should have done everything within his power to clear his name, shouldn’t he?

    • pulseczar

      Vick gave dog owners a forum in which to let their dogs rip each other to shreds for entertainment and gambling purposes while also torturing and raising his own dogs to take part in the dog fights. That doesn’t merit jail time? You’d be ok with that (and all other criminal activities that come along with it) in your neighborhood?

      The last (of many) Roethlisberger charges were so botched by police and others messing up the investigation and leaning on the victim. Not getting charged and/or arrested for his repeated despicable behavior means he’s really an ok guy?

      • SPAULDING!

        That’s one of those “worst stories of 2010 (or any year).”
        Guy spends 15 to 20 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit,
        and, then, he, deservedly, gets a stipend for lost time. Meanwhile,
        it makes a civic entity look that much dumber, and puts the voters on the hook.
        If you don’t have a preponderance of evidence, the case should be dropped.
        Once again, I could go to Harvard Law School, if someone was willing to write me a check for $400,000.

    • Dennis Lohr

      you should switch arms. it must tiring carrying water for roethlisberger like that.

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    He played against a BACK UP
    ‘scuse me

  • Jack

    Vick didn’t deserve prison, he deserved to be tortured like the dogs, he or his staff tortured.
    As far as Big Ben, its all about money, if any regular guy would have done what he did, they would not be on the street making millions, they would still be locked up. It is just another example that laws do not apply to the rich.
    Same as if any regular guy got busted for having a dog fighting ring on their property, you dont get let out on bond, you go to jail, and await trial, then you are convicted.

  • LoveLove

    Ben understands his great performance so far on the field does not merit sympathy or a free pass from taking responsibility for his actions. He simply wants to move ahead, humbly regretting his past and wanting to be a better man in the future. Just because the media outlets are praising him doesn’t mean that he is somehow off the hook. He has to face his past everyday and can never escape the fact that he has done some horrible things. But we must allow an avenue for grace and put cynicism aside and allow him the opportunity to prove himself sincere. If people simply can’t do this then how are people ever going to change for the better. Big Ben I hope that you continue on your path of humility and self reflection. Winning the battle over guilt and shame will prove more valuable than any Superbowl victory when its all said and done.


      Well said.

      I’m enjoying snow day “the first,”
      I’m not really looking forward to snow day “the second.”
      Then, it’d become “Cabin Fever: The Musical!”
      And, with a two-year-old daughter, I can’t just pop in the latest
      special-effects laden extravaganza.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        I need to get back into the swing of all that.
        Our first grand-child (Mary) was born on Saturday!

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Let’s read story books.

        When our son was 2, I remember he loved to watch Sesame Street again and again (repeats of the same show on the same day).

        My wife can draw very well, so paper and crayons were always a staple with us.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Thanks Deadite.
        Old Guy is right…54.
        My back is gonna kill me with all the upcoming digging out of Snowzilla.

      • Denver Deadite

        But congrats as well. :)

      • Denver Deadite

        Old guy!

  • Larry

    Right now the Portrait of Dorain Roethlisberger must be an ugly sight indeed.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Oooooh…now that was a great post.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Thanks bronzo.
        Not to dwell on the hard part…but the baby was blue and could not breathe.
        Mary had to be taken to the neo-natal ICU and hooked-up to all sorts of medical equipment.
        The little one did well and just came home about an hour ago (my son texted me).
        So she is a little miracle baby and represents many answered prayers.

      • bronzo

        Late to the party here… Larry I read you are now a proud grandfather!! Congrats to you and your family!!!!

        Ben is jerk… But i would love him to be our QB

  • Jay's Insulin Pump

    I may not have said, “look at the detail on these shelves!” but I do admire his choice of rack.

    Seriously though, what a piece of garbage. If only his motorcycle had a couple more HP.

    • pulseczar

      I’m a rider. They don’t make them with much more horsepower than what he was riding. A Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R.

      Not arguing though.

      He is a rubbish human being. Why force yourself onto women (again and again) when you can have almost any hottie bimbo you want? You’re a millionaire star NFL QB, ffs.

  • The Fire and The Passion

    How long before the Ines bubble butt Mexican reporter thing blows up again when she starts “interviewing” the players at media day

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Excellent TF and TP.
      I was just thinking to myself, “I wonder if she would dare c0ck-tease Big Ben???


    Oh, we’ll be getting to the drawing and the reading. I’m parsing it out. We also have toy instruments. Those come out around “beer thirty” (kidding).

    New tournament of bad early entries:
    Ines Sanchez reporting
    Student section “piston jumping” (caught on TV)
    Ever favorite:
    Sports ticker (Troy Palamalu wins. . .Rothlisberger’s team mates. . .Troy Palamalu wins. . . Rothlisberger’s team mates. . .soccer trade. . .soccer trade. . . quiddich scores. . . .repeat, ad nauseum.


    Congratulations on the grand child, L.H.A., by the way.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Can’t believe it…..seems like 5 minutes ago that our son was born, and now our baby boy is married and has a daughter!

      • AnneS


  • crash corrigan

    Let’s talk about a QB we really care about. Will Cutler continue taking the “high road” , i.e., not discussing his crucifixion by players and fans or will we eventually have to wallow through the predictable “exclusive interview” at some point before next season?

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    I don’t know that Cutler is taking the “high road”.
    I think he naturally takes the fifth…he is just as silent as Calvin Coolidge.
    The only way we will get the self-serving exclusive interview bit is if the Bears PR people decide that he must do so to clear the air.
    I’m thinking that the lock-out etc. will be such a distraction that an “exclusive” on this topic next August will seem very, very dated.

    • Denver Deadite

      “he is just as silent as Calvin Coolidge.”

      Well, at least Coolidge has an excuse, what with being dead and all. ;)

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Ha! LOL.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    congratulations grandpa arse!

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Thanks Jon.
      Now if her first words are, “Packers suck” I will have done my job.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Anne that is GREAT!!!

      • AnneS

        My youngest is 5 months and she has a green & yellow pacifier that I wrote “packers suck” on. Classy people we are. lol

  • Jon, Montgomery

    i will be rooting for the packers this sunday, sorry bears fans, but i just hate rapistberger too much to cheer for the steelers.

    and sorry i haven’t been as active in danny’s blogs lately, but the topics really haven’t peaked my interest to jump in and post much.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      You are right about the blog topics.
      We had an entire week of Cutler post-mortem, then yesterday was why the NFL and NHL all-star games suck, and today is “No matter how well he plays, Big Ben is still a d!ck in real life.”

      I’m not rooting for either team.
      Not even sure I will bother to watch.
      Depends on what we are doing.

  • bronzo

    Larry I don’t know if you saw my post I inserted above a litttle earlier. Congrats to you and your family on the birth of your granddaughter !!! God Bless

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Yes, thank you for your kindness bronzo.
      Mary is a little miracle baby, the answer to many prayers.
      She was born blue, could not breathe.
      She was rushed to the neo-natal ICU and hooked-up to all sorts of machines and monitors. Mary did so well in ICU that she just went home an hour ago.

  • bronzo

    Glad to hear she is doing well!!

  • jaycee

    ESPN is nothing but a sex cess pool waiting for the big one to exploed

  • PackerBacker

    Roethlisberger is one of the league’s best QB’s, making millions of dollars, and he STILL can’t get women to voluntarily sleep with him. As much as I hate Cutler, at least he got Kristin Cavallari.

    I did love how Roethlisberger wore pink wristbands all throughout October. We know how much he respects women…

    • Jay's Insulin Pump

      You do know he is engaged to be married, right?

      And he was recently dating LPGA hottie Natalie Gulbis, so…. maybe that just tells you some chicks will F anybody.

      /so glad I don’t have a daughter

      • PackerBacker

        He and Natalie Gulbis dated years ago, prior to any public sexual assault allegations. Don’t drag her name through the mud. As for the other chick…probably looking for her 15 minutes of fame and the wedding won’t ever actually happen.

  • James

    When regular folks do stupid things, we love to give them a second chance, and perhaps they are deserving IF they show contrition in deeds, not words. It’s been 1 year since the GA incident and 3 (I think) since the hotel incident. He got knocked down after the second incident and asked to participate in various programs per the NFL. I think it is too early to consider him redeemed, or not. Only time will tell, and I hope he takes full advantage of the opportunity.

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