Roughing the Passer: Doesn’t Somebody Want to be Wanted

It’s the most important position in sports and also perhaps the most difficult to play, but that doesn’t mean we should go easy on them when it all goes wrong. In the crosshairs this week is a veteran QB who seems to need constant reassurance… 

Ben Roethlisberger is as big a diva as there is in the entire NFL, and in a league where Odell Beckham Jr and Tom Brady also reside, that’s quite the accomplishment.

Last week the Steelers QB went public to throw his star receiver Antonio Brown under the bus for being a ‘distraction’. Presumably he ‘distracted’ people from talking about how awesome his quarterback is, and we can’t have that, can we?

‘Big Ben’ just loves attention. He craves it. Whether he’s making empty threats about retiring (“Oh no Ben, don’t retire, we need you!”) or hobbling around and exaggerating some minor injury (“Are you gonna be ok for Sunday, Ben? We need you, Ben!” he always needs to be told how important he is. Big Ben is the girl who constantly needs everyone to tell her how pretty she is.

“Heath, I think these yellow pants make my butt look fat. Tell me they don’t”

The guy is always limping around but never misses any playing time. Why? Because he’s rarely hurt as bad as he’d have everyone believe. He lives for the whole “look at Big Ben playing through the pain, he’s sooooo tough” thing. Newsflash; all QB’s play hurt. Most try to hide it though and they certainly don’t exaggerate their limp to make everyone aware of it. Not like Big Ben.

He’s not having a great season so far (he even managed to lose to my God awful Bears) but he plumbed new depths this week in a 30-9 loss to Jacksonville when he almost single handedly blew the game. Five INT’s (two of them pick sixes) and no TD’s is hard to do when you’re throwing to Brown, arguably the best wideout in the league.

How did he respond to his horror performance? Why in typical Big Ben fashion of course. “Maybe I don’t have it anymore” he told a group of open mouthed reporters. It’s a wonder the sprinklers in the locker room weren’t set off by the smoke coming from the fingers of Steelers beat writers, frantically racing to be first to tweet the news. Way to make sure everyone is talking about you, big fella.

Ben didn’t believe that he “doesn’t have it anymore” and, much like his retirement talk, nobody who heard him say it believed he was serious either. Still, it didn’t stop everyone in NFL Universe from talking about him, his legacy, what he means to the Steelers etc so job done there.

The very next day ol’ number seven was singing from an entirely different hymn sheet though. “You wake up Monday morning, and you realize, ‘Man, I’m still one of the best in the world to do what I do,’ ” Roethlisberger said. “I have that belief, that I’m one of the best that’s ever done it, [one of] the best that’s ever played this position. You have to have that confidence, and that’s what I’m gonna have.”

“Guys, tell me I’m great or I’m going home!”

He’s right, he is one of the best to have played the position and he’s a sure fire Hall of Famer. He’s not over the hill yet and still has a few good years left in him. Sunday was probably just a bad game and he’s experienced enough highs and lows to know that, but when you say “yeah I sucked but I’ll put it right next week” you don’t tend to get the kind of reassurance that Ben craves.

Say “maybe I don’t have it anymore” on the other hand, and you’ll have sycophants lining up around the block to tell you how great you are.

Ben still has it and he may well come out next week and light up the Chiefs for 400 yards and a handful of TD’s. If he doesn’t? He can always start hobbling around like the wounded soldier or threaten to retire again, that usually works.

 

Dave Usher

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David Usher
Site Editor / Bears, Bulls & NFL Correspondant
Day job is writing about footy for 'the Liverpool Way' and ESPN FC. Love the Bears and Bulls too though, which is why I'm here.
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