Pittsburgh Steelers Sick of Losing

The Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers (6-7) aren’t quite feeling the Christmas spirit. Facing the Green Bay Packers (9-4) Sunday, the team has let in-fighting boil over into the press, and Ben Roethlisberger has exchanged barbs with former teammate Jerome Bettis.

It isn’t pretty.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

The Steelers held their annual Christmas party last night, and they still did not receive the gift they most cherish.

One victory.

"It’s very important," receiver Hines Ward said. "I’m sick of losing. Losing’s not fun. My day does not go right when we don’t win. It’s hard to wake up and do anything."

Their previous victory came Nov. 9; their most recent victory at home came Oct. 25. Anyone who had seen only the Steelers’ past five games would think they were the Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams or Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

If the Steelers lose to Green Bay at Heinz Field Sunday, it would tie their longest losing streak in 40 years. For many, it already is the longest skid they have ever experienced.

"Not in high school, not here and I don’t think so in college, no," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "For me, you get upset, you get disappointed about it because I hate losing. I hate losing more than anything. The more I pout, the more I sulk, doesn’t mean we get to go back in time and win that game.

Oh, the pain.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com

Ben Roethlisberger Likely To Sit Out Against Ravens

The bad news for Steelers fans from WTAE in Pittsburgh:

There’s word that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will not play Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

According to FOXSports.com, Roethlisberger has decided to sit out Sunday.

A report on NFL.com indicated that Roethlisberger had yet to decide.WTAE Channel 4 Action News has called the Steelers for comment Saturday morning and will update this report when information becomes available.

I’ll be padding on extra black and gold Sunday for third string quarterback Dennis Dixon, who will likely get the start as Charlie Batch is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The Steelers and Ravens kick off Sunday night at 7:20 p.m. Central. The game will be televised on NBC.

Read more here.

The Conundrum Surrounding Ben Roethlisberger

Over two decades ago, I had a friend who was accused of sexual abuse against a minor.  The minor had been arrested on vandalism charges, and said that his downward spiral stemmed from the alleged sexual abuse he suffered years before.  The accused saw his life turned upside down, and the experience nearly ruined him.  He retained a lawyer, waited what seemed an agonizing three weeks, before the minor finally admitted that he had completely fabricated the charges.

But the stigma remained.

What I remember most was something my friend said while this was all going on, “You can’t protect yourself against a lie.”

You can’t protect yourself against a lie.

It’s a tough lesson.  This friend reflected that if you are alone with someone for five minutes, that person can say anything later on.

It’s a lesson in how utterly vulnerable we all are.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stands accused in a civil suit of sexually assaulting a 31-year-old Canadian national casino worker in Nevada on July 11, 2008.

Mr. Roethlisberger is vulnerable.  Regardless of what happened, his image is sullied for a while.  Is Roethlisberger the victim of an ugly lie?  Or did something else happen?  Is it possible the allegation is true?

The accuser has a weakened case.  There has been no criminal complaint.  There has been no police investigation.  However, the accuser contacted the sheriff’s department over unrelated instances in the past.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Her attorney acknowledges that his client did not seek out the police. Her lawsuit said she was “afraid of the consequences of reporting it to police authorities since it was obvious to her that Harrah’s and its personnel … would side with and support Roethlisberger. …”

Records in Douglas County, Nev., show the woman after other incidents had contacted the sheriff’s department — this January, March 2008 and September 2005 — to report harassment, a burglary at her home and annoying phone calls, respectively.

The department has said it will not launch an investigation into the sexual assault allegation unless the woman files a complaint.

Roethlisberger made a statement Thursday:

With pursed lips and a somber expression, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger denied to the world yesterday the accusations of a Nevada casino worker who claims in a lawsuit that he sexually assaulted her last summer.

“The allegations against me are reckless and false,” Mr. Roethlisberger, 27, told reporters at the Steelers UPMC training facility on the South Side, speaking publicly about the case for the first time.

Her attorney, Calvin R.X. Dunlap, confirmed yesterday that Mr. Roethlisberger was served with the suit while he was attending this year’s golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, which ran from July 14 to this past Sunday.

“Her false and vicious allegations are an attack on my family and on me. I would never, ever force myself on a woman. I’m going to fight to protect my family and my reputation,” Mr. Roethlisberger continued.

Wearing a brown, pinstripe suit with a pocket square, dress shirt open at the neck and no tie, the two-time Super Bowl winner seemed a bit haggard, sporting stubble and tousled hair.

Filing a civil suit before making a criminal complaint is suspicious, especially when the accuser had gone to the police before.

Regardless of where this goes and what actually happened in Nevada, this will be a life-changing event for Ben Roethlisberger.  Without a criminal complaint, is she simply looking for a settlement?  Who knows.  The diabolical thing about civil suits is that they sometimes do end in a settlement of some sort, and that in itself raises questions.  The wonderful conundrum, however, is that it’s sometimes much cheaper to settle a civil suit than to endure lengthy litigation, especially given that the standard of proof is less in a civil matter.

Civil suits can also be thrown out, dismissed with prejudice.

The Steeler organization has no tolerance for problem players.  The Rooney family has a long-standing reputation for only accepting people of character on the team and in the organization.  Arthur J. Rooney saw the Steelers as an extension of his family, and that feeling persists today.  That doesn’t mean that everyone on the team is an angel, or always has been.  But expectations are high, and players come to believe the expectations are worth living up to, on and off the field.

So I don’t take lightly the fact that the organization stands behind Roethlisberger, literally as well as figuratively:

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin stood behind Mr. Roethlisberger’s right shoulder, looking on stoically on as his quarterback spoke. Also attending the news conference were Kevin Colbert, the Steelers director of football operations; the quarterback’s agent, Ryan Tollner; and his lawyer, William David Cornwell Sr.

Is there more to the story?  No doubt.  But I don’t see this as a case of men supporting other men at all costs.  Not this team.  That’s the insidious thing about this civil allegation.  It raises those doubts.  And it shouldn’t.

At this point, all we can do is watch and hope that Ben is still the man he has demonstrated himself to be — over a long period of time.

Say It Ain’t So, Ben Roethlisberger

After the Pittsburgh Steelers won the  Super Bowl a couple of years ago, Ben Roethlisberger was in a terrible motorcycle crash, and we were afraid we would lose him for good.

The Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl this year, and we’re once again afraid.  Ben Roethlistberger stands accused in a civil suit.

Interesting that there are no criminal charges.

But, Ben, hey, be careful who you invite to your room, dude!

From WTAE Pittbsurgh:

A casino employee is suing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, accusing him of sexual assault.

An online report indicates that Harrah’s casino employee Andrea McNulty filed the civil lawsuit last week in Washoe County, Nev., that stem from an alleged incident at a hotel room in July 2008. It was not known whether criminal charges were sought.

Is this an exercise in, “Be Careful Who You Invite to Your Room?”  Or did this really happen?

Say it ain’t so, Ben.  Please.  Say it ain’t so.

Pittsburgh Steelers Pick Up Biggest Ring Yet

steelers-super-bowl-ring-2009The Pittsburgh Steelers picked up their Super Bowl LXIII rings last night, and this is the biggest ring yet.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the story:

The Steelers’ Super Bowl ring keeps getting bigger, and Joe Greene, who picked up his sixth last night, could not decide which he likes more.

You have six kids, you love them all equally.

“There is no best,” Greene said.

The latest, which weighs in at 3.7 ounces and contains 63 diamonds that go 3.61 carats, is Greene’s and the Steelers’ biggest, by far, dwarfing their ring from Super Bowl XL.

Counting all the diamonds, it was another whiteout night across town in Pittsburgh.

“It is a beautiful ring,” said Greene, who earned four as a Hall of Fame defensive tackle for the Steelers and two more as a scout. “Beautiful, beautiful ring.”

Greene is one of five club employees who have earned six rings, including Dan Rooney and scout Bill Nunn. At one time, 22 players owned four Super Bowl rings, earned over six seasons in the 1970s.

Gotta love “Mean” Joe Greene.  I do, and I’m glad he’s still a part of the franchise.

Twenty-eight team members joined the “two ring” club.

The ceremony was supposed to last until 11 p.m., but Ben Roethlisberger left first:

Ben Roethlisberger was the first to emerge at 7:43 p.m., holding the large box with the large ring inside. He jumped into his Porsche and sped across town to Mellon Arena for the game.

That was the Penguins game at the Igloo, Stanley Cup game six.  The Penguins topped Detroit 2-1 and have tied the series at 3-3.  Friday night is do or die for each team.

As I write this, I’m wondering what I’ll be thinking six months from now as I look back on this post.  Two days hence, we’ll know who gets to keep the Stanley Cup for a year.  Six months down the road, and the Steelers will be well into the 2009 seasons, battling cold games in Pittsburgh.

Let’s go Pens! Take the cup!

And congratulations to the Steelers.

Hines Ward and the Pittsburgh Steelers Foreva

Hines Ward wants to retire a Pittsburgh Steeler, and speaking for Steeler Nation — if I may — we couldn’t be happier.

From WTAE in Pittsburgh:

Ward, about to enter the final season of his contract, agreed Saturday to a contract extension that will pay him a lower salary than the $5.8 million he was to make this season but will make up the money in a signing bonus.

The deal was being finalized Saturday between the Steelers and Ward’s agent, Eugene Parker, but is expected to be worth about $22 million over four seasons, although only a portion of that would be guaranteed.The Steelers were only about $2 million under the salary cap last week, not enough money to sign their draft picks, and they have been working to create cap room since signing All-Pro linebacker James Harrison to a $51.75 million, six-year contract.

Ward is the leading receiver in franchise history with 800 receptions for 9,780 yards and 72 touchdowns.

Besides the stats, however, he’s just an incredibly awesome person.

I’ll make a point of writing more about Hines Ward over the next few days.  Author Jim O’Brien has a number of incredible anecdotes about the man, and I’ll enjoy passing them along to you.

Hines Ward the the Steelers… Foreva!

Steelers’ Jeff Reed Charged with Disorderly Conduct

Let’s hope this is the worst thing that happens to Super Bowl champion Pittsuburgh Steelers in the off-season.

Jeff Reed, two-time Super Bowl champion, one of the greatest field goal kickers in the NFL, allegedly went bonkers when he discovered that a towel dispenser at  a gas station was empty.

Yup.  For real.  Police say the kicker attacked a towel dispenser.

From WTEA in Pittsburgh:

According to a state police press release, Reed damaged a towel dispenser inside the men’s room at a Sheetz gas station on Route 22 in New Alexandria after he became infuriated that it did not contain towels.

Store employees told state police that they heard Reed “banging on something and that it was really loud.” The employees said Reed then left the bathroom “using profane language in a loud manner” and stating that there were no towels in the restroom.

State police cited Reed with disorderly conduct and criminal mischief, which carry a maximum fine of $300 and 90 days in jail each.

We have a guy in our town who insists any mention of his name in the press is a good thing.  He’s a chronic pol, always running for office, often running for more than one office at a time.

I have always disagreed with this shallow philosophy.

I suspect Jeff Reed would disagree as well.  I would not want to be in the kicker’s shoes when he faces Mike Tomlin.

Steeler Nation Endorses Obama

It’s official.  The Steeler Nation has endorsed Barack Obama for President.

Very cool.

It must have been an awesome event in Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena Monday.  According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, thousands showed up to hear the Senator from Illinois deliver his “closing argument” to the campaign:

Mr. Obama was introduced by Steelers President Dan Rooney whose presence sparked incongruous calls of “Here we go Steelers, Here we go,” in the home of the Penguins.

“Eight more days, eight more days,” the crowd chanted taking the lead of Sen. Bob Casey, who, along with Gov. Ed Rendell joined Mr. Obama on the arena floor. As they voiced their support for the Democratic nominee, thousands of other supporters still waited in the long line that wrapped around the Lower Hill site.

Obama brought his message of hope home to the voters of Pennsylvania:

“After decades of broken politics in Washington, eight years of failed policies from George Bush, and 21 months of a campaign that has taken us from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are one week away from change in America,” he said as a wave of applause broke over the arena.

“I knew that the size of our challenges had outgrown the smallness of our politics. I believed that Democrats and Republicans and Americans of every political stripe were hungry for new ideas, new leadership, and a new kind of politics — one that favors common sense over ideology; one that focuses on those values and ideals we hold in common as Americans.”

And more:

“Now, Sen. McCain has served this country with distinction. And he can point to a few moments over the past eight years, on torture for example, where he has broken from George Bush,” Mr. Obama said. “But when it comes to the economy — when it comes to the central issue of this election all across then region, he don’t get it. The plain truth is that John McCain has stood with this president every step of the way. Voting for the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that he once opposed.

“Voting for the Bush budgets that spent us into debt. He called for less regulation twenty-one times just this year. Those are the facts.”

As a Steeler fan, I have to admit seeing Dan Rooney with Barack was incredibly awesome.  Look, I know Barack has been cheering many different sports teams all over this great country of ours.  Pols do that all the time.

Today, one team cheered back with a thunderous roar.

The message is clear, Pennsylvania: Barack Obama is on our team now.  Give him your vote.

Addendum:  Franco Harris, who is also backing Barack Obama, attended the 55th Annual Autumn Leaf Festival parade on October 4 to campaign for Obama.

Editor’s Note: On Wednesday, former President Bill Clinton, one of the most beloved pols to ever visit the Keystone State will seek Democratic votes in Washington County.  Our report on Turning Left will follow.