View Full Version : Kid camp switch also big loss for Big Ben

05-31-2010, 08:04 PM
Kid camp switch also big loss for Big Ben
Monday, May 31, 2010
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be front and center in the news again Tuesday when he reports to the team's South Side headquarters for offseason workouts with the blessing of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. But it was another Roethlisberger story last week that interested me. Saddened me, actually.

"Tomlin relieves Big Ben at camp"

So read the headline in Wednesday's Post-Gazette.

I understand the primary reason that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin will pinch-hit for Roethlisberger at Roethlisberger's annual youth football camp June 21-23 at Mars Area High School. Either Roethlisberger isn't ready to make that kind of public appearance so soon after his escapades in Milledgeville, Ga., or, more likely, the camp organizers don't want him there this year. (The Post-Gazette is one of a number of camp sponsors).

Only a fool would think that there aren't a lot of parents who wouldn't feel comfortable paying $249 for their son or daughter to spend time with a man who was accused of rape. Although Roethlisberger wasn't charged with any crime, his boorish actions March 5 at a Georgia college bar earned him a conditional six-game suspension for the 2010 season from Goodell. His punishment could be reduced to four games if he completes all of Goodell's requirements.

"Under the circumstances, Ben reached out to coach Tomlin to run the camp this year," camp coordinator Jake Moylan said.

It's nice that Tomlin agreed to do it. He will do a fabulous job. Who better to instruct campers -- boys and girls, ages 7-14 -- about football than the Super Bowl-winning coach of the Steelers? "Helping children understand and enjoy the game of football has been a passion of mine for many years," Tomlin said in a statement.

Still, I can't help but think everyone will lose something very significant at this camp. Roethlisberger, for sure. But even the kids.

Especially the kids.

I want to believe the Milledgeville incident will turn out to be Roethlisberger's scared-straight moment. I like to think he's working hard to get his life and football career back on track. That's why Goodell agreed to allow him to rejoin his teammates at the offseason workouts after ordering him to undergo behavioral evaluation April 21.

Clearly, Roethlisberger wants to repair his battered image. The best way to do that is by trying to live a normal life. If a part of that involves getting out among the public, so be it.

That's why it's a shame that Roethisberger won't be at that camp. Working with kids is just the sort of thing he should be doing. It would do wonders for him if he went into it with the right approach. It also could do a world of good for the campers and make something positive out of an ugly situation.

I feel very strongly about that.

I know I wouldn't hesitate to send my kid to Big Ben's camp if she wanted to go.

I've never been one to believe that athletes have to be role models. That's a better, more appropriate job for parents or guardians, for teachers and church figures. Just because a guy can throw a football spectacularly and win Super Bowls doesn't mean you should want your son or daughter to grow up and emulate him.

But I'm not foolish enough to think that a prominent athlete can't have a positive impact on kids. There's no doubt in my mind Roethlisberger could do that at this camp by teaching a valuable life lesson.

All it would take is a little honesty on his part with what surely would be a very rapt audience.

"Listen up, guys. We're going to get to some football in just a minute, but, before we do, I want to share something with you. Without going into details, I have made some bad choices in my life. I know that now. I also know that those choices came with painful consequences. It doesn't matter who you are or how rich and famous you might be. You are responsible for your actions and you will have to answer for them. Remember that when it comes time for you to make your choices."

Yes, that's the same lesson you've probably taught your kids hundreds of times.

But would it really hurt hearing it one more time from Roethlisberger?
Ron Cook: rcook@post-gazette.com. Ron Cook can be heard on the "Vinnie and Cook" show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan. More articles by this author

05-31-2010, 08:19 PM
I think there is one thing in this story that is getting lost. Ben could have cancelled the camp and said the sponsors pulled out. But instead he got a replacement and a damn fine one at that to take his place. I think it can also speak to how close Ben and Tomlin are. That Ben felt comfortable turning over the camp to him and that Tomlin was willing to do it as well.
Im sure parents will appreciate that the camp is still going on with or without Ben. And next year Ben will be back at the camp. Every year parents and kids have raved about the camp always saying Ben is great with the kids.
If it were my child I would be upset because the sponsor pulled out because of something that had nothing to do with my child. He didn't hurt my child and he wasn't convicted of any crime.

stlrz d
06-01-2010, 12:15 AM
Meh...if he had worked the camp Cook would be writing about how he shouldn't have.

06-01-2010, 02:24 PM
again, this is one on a long list of things that will be playing out over the next couple of years as far as Ben repairing his reputation. Assuming he stays out of trouble and does indeed repair that reputation, he will be back at the camp in years to come, it is just too soon.