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Roethlisberger painted in the wrong light Sunday

October 21, 2010

Some fans just do not get it.

Yes, it is hard to separate one's love for a team from reality. But often times fandom oversteps the boundaries of sanity.

Case in point during the Steelers and Browns contest this past Sunday, a flag flew proudly among Steeler faithful.

"Big Ben Godsend."

Many have surely seen the picture by now replicating the famous painting of Michelangelo's "Creation of Man" in the Sistine Chapel. Instead, the defilement has Ben Roethlisberger touching the finger of God, fully garbed in Pittsburgh gear.

The misrepresentation is appalling on many levels.

First and foremost is the pedestal a sports figure is placed upon undeservedly so.

Roethlisberger is not a triumphant hero returning from battle like so many proud soldiers have done in the great service of this country.

He is not a surviving cancer patient stepping back on the field like Mark Herzlich of Boston College.

He is not someone who has overcome some great personal loss to play the sport he loves like Brett Favre did when his father had passed just a day prior to a Monday night contest (though the current irony of the situation is not lost.)

Roethlisberger is a man who has been accused of sexual improprieties at least twice in the past two years.

Whether or not he was found guilty is inconsequential. He wittingly placed himself in situation a man of his standing within the community should not have been.

His return should not be applauded but put into context. The suspension he received was a direct result to his own actions.

Second is the team's situation entering his return.

Godsend, as defined by Marriam-Webster, is "a desirable or needed thing or event that comes unexpectedly."

While desirable for many who follow the men of steel, Roethlisberger's return was neither needed nor unexpected.

The Steelers were 3-1, coming off a bye week, and facing the lowly Browns.

Their incumbent starter was not required to win the game handily nor was Pittsburgh in dire straights. The Steelers had outperformed all expectations to date currently standing alone atop the AFC North division.

Surely, Roethlisberger makes the Steelers a more potent offense, thus a better team, but his appearance became a sideshow of misrepresented longing.

Pittsburgh wins and will continue to win with its defense. The quarterback situation only greases the wheels.

Last, the obvious religious connotations cannot be overlooked but will not be discussed at length.

There may be a fine line to support a player from your favorite team, but the person said player is underneath the helmet and shoulder pads does not magically disappear.

It's hypocritical of those who cheer him because he gives his squad the best chance to win on any given Sunday and selectively forget all the reasons he was suspended initially.

Priorities are out of whack and getting worse each week as a person's fantasy team needs someone to produce, or a betting spread needs to be reached, or a football player who has been subhuman off the field walks back on the field and is praised.

(Sobleski, a Cadiz resident, is a sports writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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