Big Ben rejoins Steelers, in shape

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ben Roethlisberger took the field with his teammates on Tuesday but will not talk to the media, while Jim Wexell of reports that Big Ben is in “much better shape” than he was a couple of months ago.

Roethlisberger appeared to be overweight when he showed up to workouts in March, but it’s not unusual for him to be out of shape at this point during the year. If Wexell’s report is true and he’s in much better shape now, maybe the events that transpired over these last couple of months woke him up.

And what a relief that would be for the Steelers. They don’t need Roethlisberger to clean up his act until he gets back from his suspension and then fall right back into the same pitfalls that got him in trouble in the first place. They need him to make wholesale changes so they don’t have to make a drastic decision, such as dumping him entirely.

Time will tell if the new, slimmer Big Ben has improved his decision-making.

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Big Ben can return to Steelers next week

Roger Goodell has seen enough in the early stages of Ben Roethlisberger’s behavioral evaluation to grant the quarterback permission to re-join the Steelers next week. However, Goodell still hasn’t decided whether or not to reduce Big Ben’s suspension from six to four games.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“Based on the reports and recommendations of our medical experts, commissioner Goodell advised the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger [Thursday] that he is cleared to return to team activities beginning next week,” The NFL said in a statement. “The commissioner will continue to monitor Roethlisberger’s progress as he begins the next phase of his recommended plan and will meet with Roethlisberger again at the appropriate time.

“There has been no decision on any modification to the length of Roethlisberger’s suspension. In his April 21 disciplinary decision, commissioner Goodell announced that Roethlisberger is suspended without pay for the first six games of the regular season. The commissioner said he would review Roethlisberger’s progress prior to the start of the regular season and consider whether to reduce the suspension to four games. Failure to cooperate and follow his plan could result in a longer suspension,” the statement concluded.

It’ll be interesting to see what the reaction of Roethlisberger’s teammates will be when he returns next week. Usually teammates are very accepting of someone after they’ve gone through an ordeal or a suspension. But players like Hines Ward have been vocal about how Big Ben has let the team down, so I’m curious to see whether or not it’ll be business as usual in Pittsburgh next week.

Of course, even if his teammates are displeased with Roethlisberger and his actions over the past two years, he’s still their quarterback. He helps them win games and usually, players can separate what a guy does off the field from what he does on it. So chances are that his teammates will say all the right things to the media and try to not let his issues become a bigger distraction than it already is.

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Goodell to review Roethlisberger’s “behavioral evaluation” within the week

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told the media at the owners meetings on Tuesday that he would review the behavioral evaluation he ordered as part of Ben Roethlisberger’s six-game suspension within a week. If Goodell determines that Big Ben has made progress, then he may allow the quarterback to rejoin the Steelers for offseason workouts.

What I would like to know is what process Goodell is planning to take when determining whether or not Roethlisberger should have the privilege to return to his team. What is Goodell going to do, send Big Ben into a crowded bar filled with horny chicks to see if he’ll behave himself? I’m not trying to sound insensitive in light of the previous allegations against Roethlisberger, but seriously – how is Goodell going to know whether or not the QB is worthy enough to return to football?

Furthermore, how is Goodell going to determine whether or not he should lighten Big Ben’s suspension from six to four games? Anyone can behave themselves for a month if they want something bad enough. Who’s to say that Roethlisberger has learned anything? Does Goodell have a couple of eagle scouts watching the quarterback’s every move?

I guess Goodell will just have to go with his gut and trust that Roethlisberger has suffered enough embarrassment to have changed (or is in the process of changing). I don’t doubt that the commissioner is taking this matter seriously, but I would love to find out what constitutes Big Ben learning his lesson and therefore, what it is that he did to earn a four-game suspension over a six-game penalty if that is indeed the outcome here.

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Big Ben finishes behavioral evaluation, but will he change?

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has completed his behavioral evaluation ordered by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

The behavioral evaluations are just part of Roethlisberger’s punishment after he was accused of sexual assault for the second time in less than a year. If he fulfills his requirements, Goodell may reduce the quarterback’s suspension from six to four games and while Big Ben’s camp is hopeful that he’ll be able to participate in team activities soon, the Steelers have no timetable for his return.

Goodell is doing a thorough job in this situation, but who knows if Big Ben has learned anything – or will learn anything. He may be fulfilling his requirements in order to get back on the field, but that doesn’t mean he has changed. Has he been humbled by this experience? Will he make smarter decisions in the future? Will he strive not to put himself in situations where it may lead to him getting into more trouble?

Roethlisberger is a young, single guy. To think he’s going to spend the rest of his football career staying at home and nuzzling up to the fireplace while watching HGTV and sipping a glass of wine is unrealistic. But in order for him to avoid future punishment and embarrassment, he needs to improve his decision-making. Steeler fans can only hope that this process will lead to a wiser, more humbled Ben Roethlisberger.

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According to former teammates, Big Ben wasn’t popular in locker room before scandal

Let the piling on Ben Roethlisberger begin.

ESPN’s Kelly Naqi recently did a story for “Outside the Lines” in which details emerged about Big Ben’s popularity (or lack thereof) among his Pittsburgh teammates. Two of his former teammates, Najeh Devenport and Mike Logan, were quoted in the story and what they had to say won’t help Roethlisberger fix his already damaged image.

From Yahoo!

• Davenport estimated that about 60 percent of the locker room felt like Roethlisberger thought he was “bigger than the team,” and not focused on winning.

• Davenport also discussed a time when Joey Porter(notes) called out Roethlisberger in a team meeting for being the last one in to practice and the first one to leave. Porter also accused Roethlisberger of not being dedicated to the team, and criticized him for not fraternizing with his teammates.

• Mike Logan confirmed the incident where Porter addressed Roethlisberger, and said that all the things Porter mentioned were already being talked about in the locker room.

• Someone identified only as “a close friend of a Steelers player” said that the reason Roethlisberger had a bodyguard was because of an incident where a man put a gun to Roethlisberger’s head because Roethlisberger was involved with the man’s girlfriend.

• Naqi spoke with people who work at Pittsburgh bars and nightclubs, and they described Ben as someone who was condescending to the staffs and rude to other customers. One bar owner said Roethlisberger always expected he and his entourage to be given free food and drinks.

I remember when news started to break left and right about Michael Vick’s involvement in dog fighting. One day he was being indicted, and the next came intimate details about how he had always spent money carelessly, was always mixed up with the wrong people and how the Falcons were always covering up for him. So this story about Roethlisberger isn’t shocking. In fact, it would have been more surprising if new details didn’t emerge about what a piece of crap he is.
Usually when a celebrity is down, that’s when it’s the perfect time to kick him. I’m not saying these new details aren’t true (how would I know either way?), but this story seems incredibly convenient. Everyone already thinks Roethlisberger is a slimy douche, so why not toss more fuel onto the fire? If he’s going to burn, let’s make him burn.

It’s all about timing. Had this story not come out on the tails of his latest sexual assault incident, then nobody would have cared. Either that, or we all would have written this off as just another athlete that thinks he’s above it and then we would have all quickly moved on.

Regardless, Big Ben has a lot of work ahead of him if he wants to change the way people perceive him. If it matters to him, then it sounds like he’s going to have to make wholesale changes immediately. And his former teammates aren’t making things easier on him, that’s for sure.

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