From "Mr. Right Now" to "Mr. Has Ben"
by M. Stewart
Well, the big day for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers has come. The comish has spoken: a six-game suspension, behavioral evaluation, treatment. Ben has been ordered to go through a public and private humiliation--literally. He's been given time to think about his life and career, and that's exactly what he needs to do.
It's important to remember that this mess isn't only about Ben; it's about the Steelers too. The team has been punished severely: the Steelers have to play a significant portion of the season without their star quarterback.
What happens to Ben after the suspension and treatment is subject to countless variables, not the least of which is how the team plays with Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon at the helm. And who knows how Ben will respond to the whole humiliating experience? He's been brought from very high to very low, which qualifies him as the protagonist in a classical Greek tragedy. Will he fold under the pressure? Will he go on "Oprah" and seek forgiveness? Will it be granted? Maybe he'll become one those "head-case" guys who suddenly can't hit the side of a barn. And what about the still-pending Nevada civil suit? He might even be traded.
Like I said -- too many variables.
The good side of today's announcement is that it gives Mike Tomlin a clearer view of what he needs to do to prepare for the 2010 season. Byron Leftwich was brought in because Tomlin knows he's a talented veteran who already knows how to play winning football. Besides, the Steelers are loaded at wide receiver and tight end, which makes any quarterback's job easier. The preseason will be about Leftwich competing with Dennis Dixon, who is getting an opportunity to step up as well. I look for Charlier Batch to be more of a quarterback coach this season.
Point is, it's not a complete crisis situation for the Steelers. Whoever the quarterback is in September, if he plays well and wins, the fate of Ben Roethlisberger becomes less of a concern. Then again, Ben might sweep back in and save the season. Who knows?
One thing is for sure, everyone will be watching the Steelers this year for good or ill, and it's definitely going to be an interesting season. No matter what happens to Ben, Steelers fans expect the team get its shit together and win another Super Bowl. I can guarantee you that Mike Tomlin is completely focused on that goal.