Last night, I texted a dude I know from Pittsburgh. Wrote something to the extent of, “Despite my hatred of all things Pittsburgh sports, I feel pretty f*cking bad about what hardcore fans of a respectable franchise have had to endure because of Rapethlisberger.” And I do. But that doesn’t mean I won’t kick No. 7 in the nuts while he’s down. (Especially after I’ve seen how many people Rapeboy sent my site’s way via Deadspin and The Big Lead and Huff Po. They hate him. They really hate him!)
So, with no further ado, here are 10 out-of-context-but-verbatim talking points from “The Hangover, What Entitlement Run Amok is Costing the Proud Steelers.”
1. Throughout Pittsburgh there is strong sentiment that the Steelers should have parted ways with Roethlisberger, their two-time Super Bowl–winning quarterback, for behavior—ranging from civic boorishness to borderline criminality—that has deeply damaged a connection between the community and the family-run organization that has been built over 77 years.
2. “What you’re going to see is a guy who’s been humbled by the process and ready to reemerge as a better person,” [Agent Ryan] Tollner told SI. “He admitted to me that maybe he got too caught up in the Big Ben persona. Maybe he kind of ran with that too much. But at heart he’s a good person who doesn’t want to be remembered as the kind of guy who’s being presented to the public right now.”
3. Roethlisberger was riding his black 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle, helmetless and without a permit, in downtown Pittsburgh when he collided with a Chrysler New Yorker. Roethlisberger hit the windshield, rolled over the roof of the car and struck the ground headfirst. He suffered a broken jaw and nose and underwent seven hours of surgery. “If I ever ride again,” he said afterward, “it certainly will be with a helmet.”
A few months after the accident, a reporter and a cameraman for KDKA-TV, the CBS affiliate that broadcasts Steelers games, were driving on I-376 in Pittsburgh when they saw two men on motorcycles and recognized one as Roethlisberger, who was not wearing a helmet. They began shooting footage, which showed Roethlisberger giving them the finger as he sped away, but the video never aired. The station’s news director at the time, John Verrilli, and its current assistant news director, Anne Linaberger, deny that any such tape existed, but several people who saw the video gave SI similar accounts of the tape; sources believe the story was killed out of fear that it would damage KDKA’s relationship with the Steelers. “If we had been the other affiliate [which doesn’t broadcast the games],” says one of the people who saw the tape, “it would have been A-1 news.” (A neighbor who lives near Roethlisberger in a tony section of Gibsonia, Pa., but did not want to be named has also seen the quarterback on his motorcycle. “I’ve never seen him with a helmet,” the neighbor said.)
4. The 20-year-old GCSU student and others in her group of sorority sisters were wearing name tags of a sexual nature—the accuser’s read dtf, short for Down to F—. Witnesses said the woman was visibly intoxicated at Capital City, and one told police that the accuser had been “obsessed” with Roethlisberger’s arrival in town.
At around 1 a.m. Roethlisberger and the woman walked to a bathroom. The report filed by the Milledgeville police alleges that one of the bodyguards guided the woman toward the restroom by the shoulder; the bodyguards maintained to police that they had no knowledge of what happened between Roethlisberger and the woman. A source close to Roethlisberger said that he never intended to have intercourse and described his intentions as “Clinton sex,” or fellatio. But the female student told police that they did have intercourse, and that the 6’5″, 241-pound Roethlisberger used force.
Aw, so generous.
5. Earlier at Capital City, witnesses say, Roethlisberger had held aloft a tray of tequila drinks and shouted, “All my bitches, take some shots!”
6. Consider: the alleged unabashed behavior, bullying group mentality and we’re-with-Ben enablers. Those are the unifying threads from Lake Tahoe to Milledgeville.
Immature neanderthalic asshole.
7. A man who agreed to be identified only by his first name, Craig, says that a few weeks before the Milledgeville incident, he overheard Roethlisberger making lewd comments to a pregnant waitress at a Pittsburgh T.G.I. Friday’s. The waitress, when asked last week, recalled Roethlisberger’s saying such things as, “Did your boyfriend forget to pull out?”
8. Mark Baranowski, owner of the popular Cabana Bar in Pittsburgh, says that when the quarterback first came in with a group of hangers-on a few years ago, he refused to pay the $5 cover and used a variation on the Do you know who I am? line to intimidate an employee at the door.
Et tu, Lil Ben?
9. SI spoke at length with a friend of Roethlisberger’s, who gets along with the quarterback but who is pained by his behavior. When they’re out together, the man, who didn’t want his name used, sometimes feels obligated to apologize to waiters and bartenders whom Roethlisberger has treated like garbage. He says he shakes his head when he sees Roethlisberger “disrespect” women in bars. (He has never seen any sign of sexual impropriety.) He is embarrassed by Roethlisberger’s pettiness and immaturity during pickup basketball games—he says Big Ben will whine about team selection, talk mean-spirited trash and flex his biceps when he makes a good play. He despairs when he sees Roethlisberger blow off attempts by older Steelers, such as Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, to give him advice. He doubts that Roethlisberger’s closest buddies tell him anything except what he wants to hear.
I doubt he does, Cathy.
10. Cathy Linhart, who owns the House of Awards and Shoes on Main Street and sold more than 100 Roethlisberger bobbleheads after he was drafted by the Steelers, watched his paraphernalia go untouched at a garage sale last month. While acknowledging that not all the rumors about him have been proved, Linhart (who used to sell sports gear to a young Roethlisberger) is nevertheless disappointed. “Where’s his ethics? His morals? What happened to him?” she says. “Grow up, you know what I mean?”