For months, we've noticed a curious phenomenon in the 'Burgh. The fans love quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The organization coddles him. The local media (for the most part) won't criticize him.First off, this is a rumor supported using anonymous sources, so take that for what it's worth. Second, this is the first I've heard of this ... anywhere ... ever. Of course I didn't know they canceled "Gilligan's Island" until last year, so that should clue you in to how well-connected I am. Either way, I suspect this probably is a result of a seemingly innocuous incident that got blown out of proportion (like Ben's refusal to sign an autograph, for example), and by the time ProFootballTalk decided to post the unsourced rumor, it had evolved into a T.O.-like problem.
And, per multiple league sources, many of his teammates hate him.
That's right, hate. Offensive line? Hate. Other quarterbacks on the roster? Hate. Members of the defense? Hate.
The only guys on offense we can't get a feel for are the receivers and running backs. Our guess is that the pass-catchers and ball-toters know not to express any displeasure with the guy primarily responsible for distributing the pigskin.
I don't think I've ever read ProFootballTalk prior to Eric pointing out this story on Roethlisberger, but after taking a look around, I might be understating it a bit when I say that it seems like the site isn't a Big Ben supporter. In separate rumors they question his intelligence, accuse him of "growing too big for his britches," and warns of a rude awakening for the Rookie of the Year because (in your best Dr. Evil voice) "he just doesn't get it."
Until I hear otherwise, I'm not putting any stock in this, but I figure it's worth mentioning nonetheless. What I find interesting is that after looking around the site for a few minutes, it's pretty easy to figure out which "rumors" are based in fact and which, ahem, are probably some very loose interpretation of the truth. Apparently, if a "rumor" has an actual link to a source providing at least enough details for the reader to plausibly draw a similar conclusion, then fine. I have no problem with that -- that's why it's called a rumor. If a "rumor" instead just makes wanton accusations with nothing more than anonymous sources, then I'm not sure how it's anything more than some guys making stuff up primarily because I have nothing else to go on. What's funny is that in the course of "reporting" this, ProFootballTalk actually contradicts itself when it cites a Mark Maske article in the Washington Post from last week:
Maske also goes out of his way (arguably) to say that Roethlisberger "was -- and is -- liked and respected by teammates." Curiously, however, Maske cites only running back Jerome Bettis in support of this assertion.Sigh. Look, I realize that sometimes things are slow news-wise, but instead of just making stuff up, why not email Maske and find out more. Or better yet, write about something that's actually based in facts (like Jerome's penchant for donuts; OK, I made that up). As it stands, these guys prefer to paint Ben as the biggest prick in Pittsburgh after Mark Madden because he wouldn't sign some jerseys for teammates.
But just to be sure I didn't miss anything, I took a look around on some of the Steelers message boards and even the most skeptical Stillers fans were skeptical about this story (and I stole this photo from Stillers.com as proof; a fan snapped this picture showing Roethlisberger and Jerome yukking it up in between drills). Apparently, a few fans making the trip to Latrobe for training camp have seen Ben joking around with the Bus and Willie Parker. Until I hear otherwise, that's the story I'm going with.