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Thread: In Big Ben's hometown in Ohio, he's still 'family'

          
   
   
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  1. #1
    StlersGuy's Avatar
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    In Big Ben's hometown in Ohio, he's still 'family'

    FINDLAY, Ohio -- The black and gold Ben Roethlisberger jerseys are long gone from store display windows in his hometown. Stacks of bobblehead dolls at a downtown shop haven't been touched for months.

    Adoration for the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback has faded after two women accused him of sexual misconduct within the past year, sparking questions about his character and judgment.

    Yet many remain reluctant to criticize the hometown sports hero, even as they agreed with a Georgia prosecutor's assessment that Roethlisberger needs to "grow up" and be a better role model.

    "He's one of ours," said Carol Allen, of Findlay. "I'm not saying he was right or wrong. But he's family."

    Few residents in the town where he grew up were surprised when a district attorney in Milledgeville, Ga., announced Monday that Roethlisberger would not be charged after a college student accused him of sexually assaulting her in a nightclub bathroom last month.

    "People are pretty loyal to him, but it's happened twice now so it does make you wonder," said Mark Manuszak, who works in Findlay and lives nearby.

    Just a few NFL seasons ago, Roethlisberger posters decorated barbershops and bowling alleys in the middle of Cleveland Browns territory. Fans couldn't get enough merchandise as long as it had Roethlisberger's name, face or No. 7 jersey - magnets, blankets, flags, mugs, hats and clocks.

    "Anything that smelled like Ben was going out of here," said Cathy Linhart, owner of House of Awards and Shoes.

    She used to be a Browns fan and switched to the rival Steelers when they drafted Roethlisberger in 2004. Now she wonders if he's a different person than the one she sold basketball shoes and baseball cleats to when he was in high school.

    "I'm shocked. I thought he was a great role model," she said. "I don't get it. He's from a solid family, a solid hometown."

    Roethlisberger acknowledged on Monday that he'll need to work to regain the trust of teammates and fans. He still faces a lawsuit by another woman who said he raped her in 2008 at a Nevada hotel. He has denied the allegation and is seeking counter-damages in the matter.

    Many in the western Ohio town about 40 miles south of Toledo still remember Roethlisberger as the kid with close-cropped hair - not the glassy-eyed bar hopper celebrating his birthday in Georgia who authorities said bought shots for a 20-year-old student and her friends.

    They know him as the star athlete who donated autographed footballs to local charities, bought a police dog for the city, and came home every year for a celebrity basketball that raises money for the high school teams.

    "That's why people aren't quick to rush to judgment because they do know him from high school and church," said Tony Iriti, who first coached Roethlisberger in grade school and has stayed close to the family.

    He just hopes that Roethlisberger will stop putting himself in places where he can get into trouble.

    "It's just like your kids," said Iriti, the town's former mayor. "You want them to make the best judgments and put themselves in good positions all the time. Sometimes, that just doesn't happen."

    Roethlisberger's trips home have been less frequent lately. His parents moved to Pittsburgh last summer and his sister, Carlee, plays basketball for the Oklahoma Sooners.

    Whether his hometown and its 40,000 residents will stay behind him might be better known when football season comes around. "Fans are fans, that's not going to change," said J.D. Cataline, who owns High Five Sports, a shop inside the town's mall.

    He worries about how all of this will affect his 9-year-old granddaughter who started cheering for Roethlisberger during his first Super Bowl run five years ago.

    "It's real important for our younger generation to see more positive role models," he said. "That's why we're hoping for a positive outcome."

    For now, a stack of Roethlisberger calendars sits near the cash register next to smaller piles of calendars featuring other players.

    "We can sell everybody else's, but not his," said Cataline's wife, Sue. "We can't sell any of his stuff."

    Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
    http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/arti...s-still-family

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    People will come around and this will all blow over. It just takes times but fans will be cheering for him just like before. As the months go by and training camp starts, all the hype of the regular season begins to take center stage, he'll be back on the field after whatever punishment is dealt, and be throwing TD's in no time.

    It's no surprise many are backing off from buying his stuff right now, this is all still fresh in people's minds..just give it time.

    Besides, when you're family, you're family. You don't outcast someone just because of alleged wrong doing.

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    StlersGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TOP GUN View Post
    People will come around and this will all blow over. It just takes times but fans will be cheering for him just like before. As the months go by and training camp starts, all the hype of the regular season begins to take center stage, he'll be back on the field after whatever punishment is dealt, and be throwing TD's in no time.

    It's no surprise many are backing off from buying his stuff right now, this is all still fresh in people's minds..just give it time.

    Besides, when you're family, you're family. You don't outcast someone just because of alleged wrong doing.

    4 sure

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    Head Coach LatrobePA's Avatar
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    Bens hometown - Findlay = FIND LAY!! Says it all! lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by LatrobePA View Post
    Bens hometown - Findlay = FIND LAY!! Says it all! lol

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    Assistant Coach nuclearchihuahuas's Avatar
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    If #7 brings home Lombardi #7 this year--I guarantee all will be forgiven

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    Top 30 Troyisabeast_43's Avatar
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    If Ben so much as skips out on a bar tab like he has been known to do from time to time around the city here he will be gone. Personally, I think he pretty much had to beg Rooney not to get rid of his *** the other day at that meeting they had. He is walking a real fine line with the Rooney's right now and one more incident of any sort involving Ben and I think he is out of here...

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    Head Coach LatrobePA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troyisabeast_43 View Post
    If Ben so much as skips out on a bar tab like he has been known to do from time to time around the city here he will be gone. Personally, I think he pretty much had to beg Rooney not to get rid of his *** the other day at that meeting they had. He is walking a real fine line with the Rooney's right now and one more incident of any sort involving Ben and I think he is out of here...
    You're right if he even farts wrong he'll be gone so he better be careful!!

  9. #9
    Top 30 Troyisabeast_43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LatrobePA View Post
    You're right if he even farts wrong he'll be gone so he better be careful!!
    If they traded Ben right now to the Rams and got this year's first and second round picks and next year's first pick I would have a hard time turning that deal down. I'd definitely take Bradford with the first pick seeing that your would automatically have a franchise QB in your possession and then continue to work on building the defense with your other first round pick and your 2 second round picks. It would be a bold bold move to do and it might set the Steelers back a few years but I dont think as many Steelers fans would be upset about it as you might think. The Rooney's are interested in one thing making money. And if Ben's name continues to be **** here with the fans and it smears the organization they are not going to make the money off any kind of Ben merchandise or Steelers merchandise in general as they did in years past...

  10. #10
    Head Coach LatrobePA's Avatar
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    I would too.

    I'd hate to see him go, I also hated to see Holmes go, but we as fans would get over it...I just have a hard time trusting he'll stay out of trouble and I'm betting the FO thinks this as well...

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