Steelers' Roethlisberger contrite in TV interviews
Steelers' Roethlisberger contrite in TV interviews
Friday, June 11, 2010
By Gary Rotstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Ben Roethlisberger granted separate interviews this week to television stations KDKA and WTAE for his first detailed public comments since allegations of sexual assault erupted in Milledgeville, Ga. The local stations aired the interviews yesterday, although without any discussion of his conduct with young women in Milledgeville or Lake Tahoe, Nev., where a hotel employee has filed a civil suit against him. Steelers representatives told the TV stations Roethlisberger would be unable to discuss the incidents because of legal concerns.
In the interviews, Roethlisberger repeatedly faults himself for mistakes, blaming it in part on his immaturity while transitioning from his small-town Findlay, Ohio, background to "big city" Pittsburgh.
"Big Ben just kept building up, and I think it ended up coming off the field, and as the years kept going it just kept taking over Ben Roethlisberger," he told KDKA's Bob Pompeani.
Roethlisberger appeared relaxed and contrite throughout the interviews, with his most emotional moment coming in description of recent talks with his father, who now has a Western Pennsylvania farm Roethlisberger has visited frequently.
"We were talking about everything and how I got kind of lost, and he looked at me and we both kind of broke down, and he said, 'It's good to have my son back.' And that just killed me," Roethlisberger said.
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Steelers' Roethlisberger takes step in reformation
Cook: Steelers' Roethlisberger takes step in reformation
Friday, June 11, 2010
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
One day, a disheveled young woman, in a cold police interrogation room with her face blurred to protect her identity, is on tape accusing Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of unspeakable acts and taking what didn't belong to him. The next day, a boyish-looking Roethlisberger, in a bucolic setting at his family's farmhouse, is telling KDKA-TV sports anchor Bob Pompeani that he never intended "to gain the whole world and lose my soul." Has there ever been more jarring, contradictory video? I don't know about you, I'm on sensory overload.
It's easy to imagine Roethlisberger as a monster after watching the tape of a 20-year-old college student telling investigators that he raped her in the bathroom of a Milledgeville, Ga., nightclub March 5. Yes, her statement, which was released Wednesday along with dozens of recordings by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, had inconsistencies. Yes, she admitted to being intoxicated at the time of the alleged incident. And yes, Roethlisberger was not charged with a crime.
But there's no doubt Roethlisberger's actions that night were deplorable. Can you say creep?
But it was a much different Roethlisberger who showed up on our living room televisions Thursday, not just on KDKA at 6 p.m. but with WTAE-TV news anchor Sally Wiggin at 5. These were his first, much-anticipated, sit-down interviews since the unpleasantness in Milledgeville. He was contrite and apologetic. He appeared sincere, although the depth of that sincerity won't be fully determined for days, months, even years and then only by his actions. He was especially compelling when he described himself to Wiggin as "immature, young and dumb," and said, "I've made a lot of mistakes and I'm sorry for them. I've done dumb things. I know that. But those chapters in my life, I've closed that book ... It only matters what I do from here on out, That's what I'm excited about, showing people, proving to people, the fans, my teammates, my family, the [NFL] commissioner, everybody, who Ben Roethlisberger is and that Ben is here to stay."
I'll admit it, I looked at Roethlisberger in a slightly different light.
It made for must-see TV.
It also was just a small part of what will be an ever-developing story that's going on hiatus for seven weeks and resuming when the Steelers report to training camp July 30.
Roethlisberger still faces an incredible challenge in getting back his good name. Let me put it in football terms: His situation seems much more daunting than the one he faced when he and his offense were looking at a first-and-20 at their 12 with little more than two minutes left in Super Bowl XLIII and the Steelers down to the Arizona Cardinals, 23-20.
Still, there's no question Roethlisberger helped himself with these interviews. Even the small details were just right. The golf shirts he wore were more appropriate for the moment than a suit and tie would have been. His hair was cropped, but he had a day or two growth of beard, which is the way he always looks. It was as if Pompeani and Wiggin showed up separately at his door and were invited in for a nice little visit instead of formal interviews that had been arranged by his legal and public-relations teams. He came across as relaxed as he could be, considering the humiliating nature of the questions he had to answer. There were none of the forced tears you often see in these sit-downs.
Roethlisberger was smart to do one of the interviews with a woman. He faces an especially tough task winning back many of his female fans. He also was smart not to duck any questions, the one exception being the big one -- what happened in that bathroom? -- on the advice of counsel.
Yes, Roethlisberger said he got caught up in the Big Ben persona and forgot about his Christian upbringing and the right way to treat people. "This has brought me back to being Ben Roethlisberger," he told Wiggin.
No, Roethlisberger said he doesn't have a drinking problem. (I'm not sure I'm buying that one.)
Yes, Roethlisberger realizes he let down his teammates, theSteelers' organization and Steelers fans by getting suspended for at least the first four games of the NFL season. He also realizes he let down the many kids who wear his No. 7 jersey and look up to him.
No, Roethlisberger isn't worried about his game suffering because of his off-field difficulties. "I love who I am on the field and I think most fans would agree they like that," he told Pompeani. "That's not the person who needs to change. It's the person off the field ...
"I know people may say, 'Let the actions speak.' Just give me the chance to show that you'll see a new Ben."
This was just a start for Roethlisberger, a small first step in the right direction. Actually, it was a little more than that. After the sad, troubling events of March 5, it was about as good as he could have hoped for on June 10.
Can Roethlisberger make it all the back, not just as a star quarterback, but as a decent, respected person in the community. I have my doubts, but I learned a long time ago not to write the man off.
You remember how Super Bowl XLIII turned out, right?
[email="email@example.com"]firstname.lastname@example.org[/email]. 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
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Roethlisberger promises 'new Ben'
Steelers QB Roethlisberger promises 'new Ben'
By Scott Brown, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, June 11, 2010
[url="http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_685502.html"]http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 85502.html[/url]
Saying a warped sense of self — not a drinking problem — drove the behavior that nearly brought down his career in Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger made a heartfelt apology to fans Thursday.
The Steelers quarterback vowed that he won't disappoint them if given another chance.
"Every day I bust my butt to be the best quarterback in the NFL for these fans and for the Steelers, but I'm going to work even harder to be the best off the field, to be the best role model and best community leader — whatever I can be off the field," Roethlisberger said in an interview with WTAE that aired yesterday. "I owe that to the fans because I have made a lot of mistakes. From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry if I have ever even wronged one fan. I'm going to do everything in my power to never let it happen again."
A chastened Roethlisberger spoke extensively for the first time since a 20-year-old college student accused him of sexually assaulting her in a nightclub bathroom March 5 in Milledgeville, Ga. KDKA and WTAE aired parts of their one-on-one interviews yesterday. KDKA, a business partner of the Steelers, conducted two sit-down interviews with Roethlisberger this week. It will broadcast more of what he said today.
Roethlisberger told WTAE that he has been "champing at the bit" to tell his side of what happened during a booze-fueled birthday bar tour that made him the poster boy for the arrogant, self-indulged sports star. While charges were never filed against Roethlisberger, 28, the details that emerged from the incident led to a conditional suspension from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on April 20.
Roethlisberger said his lawyers advised him not to talk about what happened because he has a civil lawsuit pending in Reno, Nev. Roethlisberger did tell KDKA that there is a history of alcohol abuse in his biological mother's family. (She died when he was 8, and his father, Ken, remarried.) But, he told both stations, he does not have a problem with alcohol.
"I can honestly say that, no, it's not an issue because my dad was (always) adamant about it not being in the house," he told KDKA. "Moving forward, you have to make sure you make right decisions, and that right decision is going to have to be something that I make when the situation presents itself. You can't stop living, but you've got to live smart."
Roethlisberger, who has been accused of sexual assault twice since July, said he has made bad decisions in the past for several reasons. Among them: He was not ready for the fame and fortune he acquired at such a young age. Roethlisberger, the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, also said that he let the larger-than-life "Big Ben" persona, conceived by his on-the-field exploits, take over his life.
That, he said, led to his losing touch with core values such as the importance of religion, family and friends and simple human decency.
"I didn't really see it, but looking back on it now it's like the TobyMac song that says, 'I don't want to gain the whole world and lose my soul,' " Roethlisberger told KDKA. "I was gaining everything, but I was losing who I was and who I was raised to be."
He said a recent talk with his father impressed upon him just how far he had strayed in recent years.
"He looked at me, and we both kind of broke down. And he said, 'It's good to have my son back,'" Roethlisberger told KDKA. "That killed me. It was emotional. It feels good to be back to who I am and the son I'm proud to be with them."
The interviews are a small step in Roethlisberger's attempt to rehabilitate his battered image — and win back fans he alienated with his boorish behavior. He acknowledged as much yesterday.
"I've got a long way to go to make up for those kids and the parents that don't want them to idolize me now. I'm committed to doing that," Roethlisberger told KDKA. "Let the actions speak, and give me the chance to show that you'll see a new Ben."
Big Ben sound bites
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gave one-on-one interviews to KDKA Channel 2 and WTAE Channel 4, and segments from both aired Thursday. Here are some quotes from those interviews:
WTAE Channel 4
On what he has to say to Steelers fans:
"I've wanted to apologize to them for so many things: for being immature, for being dumb, for being young, not knowing any better, for getting caught up with everything that was thrown my way."
On fans that will boo him when he returns to the field:
"I know there's going to be people who aren't happy with me, and I owe those people apologies as much as I do anybody else. I've got to just give it my all when I'm out there playing and hope that people understand that I've made a lot of mistakes and I'm sorry for them. The next chapter in my life is what I'm excited about — and I hope fans are, my teammates are, my family."
On his admission that he hasn't always been the best teammate:
"To those guys I've reached out to ... (I) tried to wipe the slate clean and apologize to them and let them know that I got caught up and I'm sorry and I will be better. Just like I've told the fans and everybody, I will be better. I'll be a better teammate. I'll be a better friend."
KDKA Channel 2
On whether he considered changing his jersey number to symbolize being a new player:
"That got brought up, and I thought about it for about five seconds and said, 'No way.' I wear it because that's me, that's who I am. I love who I am on the football field. I think most fans would agree. I think they like that. That's not the person that needs to change. It's the person off the field, and I don't wear the number off the field."
On reaching out to former coach Bill Cowher:
"I never really knew how he felt about me, and I don't if he knew how I felt about him, because the short time we were together, he was more of a veteran coach (and) I was more of the rookie guy. Talking to him, I would call it a friendship now. He's invited me down to come spend a weekend with him."
On Terry Bradshaw's scathing remarks following the incident in Milledgeville, Ga.:
"A lot of people criticize me. That's their right, and I hold no ill feelings towards Terry Bradshaw. He is the Steelers quarterback of all time. If there was ever anything between us, I don't know where it came from, but I would apologize."