As the Steeler Nation continues to get a grip on not being part of this weekend’s AFC Championship, thankfully much of the attention has turned to the soap opera surrounding the retirement of Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians. Retired, fired, or forced out whatever you call it doesn’t matter. The ever-polarizing play caller is history and most, but not all, Steelers’ fans are happy. One guy that isn’t real thrilled is the quarterback of the Black ‘n Gold who reportedly is ‘unhappy’ about the team’s decision to let Arians go.
On the surface, Ben Roethlisberger has every right to be upset by Arians’ departure and why wouldn’t he? During the five years that Arians served as offensive coordinator, Roethlisberger was given more and more freedom in the offense especially in the two-minute or hurry up offense. Most professional quarterbacks would love the freedom afforded to Roethlisberger by his OC and head coach. With this in mind, why then would the team be willing to part ways with Arians? Isn’t keeping the $100 million man under center happy or at the very least doesn’t he deserve some input? The guy has been to three Super Bowls and won two of them in eight seasons. Most would think this would garner some serious feedback from him.
Under most circumstances, a QB with Roethlisberger’s resume would be able to put his two cents in but this quarterback gave up that opportunity through a series of poor decisions and immature behavior. Let me be honest for a minute because I have always liked Roethlisberger. I sat in Michigan Stadium many years ago watching his Miami of Ohio team play the Wolverines and I also saw him play at Western Michigan too. As a Steelers fan, I knew who I wanted to be the next franchise QB and his name wasn’t Rivers or Manning. I was thrilled when the team drafted him in 2004 so my thinking on Ben is clear.
In 2006, following the Steelers’ 5th Super Bowl title, Roethlisberger slammed his motorcycle into the side of a car. Wearing no helmet, he sustained horrendous facial injuries and frankly, was lucky to be alive. In 2008, he was suspected yet never charged in what was believed to be a sexual assault out in Lake Tahoe. He has maintained his innocence throughout and just this week settled with the accuser out of court with all details being kept private. In what many thought to be his third strike, Roethlisberger was again accused of sexual assault in a small Georgia town near his summer home. He was ultimately suspended four games to open the 2010 season by Commissioner Roger Goodell and this appeared to be the wake-up call he desperately needed.
Steeler Nation was divided. Keep him or trade him or flat-out release him was discussed on Pittsburgh sports radio for months. The team ultimately decided to keep the maligned franchise quarterback and I for one was happy about that. Although Roethlisberger has seemingly turned his personal life around, the notion that he should be involved in any decision-making within the organization was gone. What quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have, Roethlisberger will never get and he has only himself to blame. He can go ahead and scream foul all he wants to this week about Arians being gone, but it was the right move for numerous reasons. Ben and Bruce can still be golfing buddies, but Roethlisberger needs a coach and a mentor. Someone who will get more out of him than an offense that only one time ranked in the top 10 in Arians’ five seasons as the OC. Everyone seems to think somehow Roethlisberger will digress under a new coordinator but why can’t he be better? Yes, much will depend on a new and improved offensive line in 2012 but is it so impossible to imagine that Roethlisberger could be better without Arians?
I honestly don’t have a clue, but what I do know is that Ben relinquished the opportunity to make his feelings known with poor off-field decision-making. I get it, I really do understand why some think this is the wrong move at the wrong time with Ben in his prime but sadly, he had about as much input as you or I did and he need only to look in the mirror to ask why.