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Thread: Ohio towns still have lots of love for Big Ben

  1. #1
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    Ohio towns still have lots of love for Big Ben

    Ohio towns still have lots of love for Big Ben

    By Bob Cohn, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Sunday, March 28, 2010
    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 73733.html

    OXFORD, Ohio One day last July in Lake Tahoe, Nev., Ned Stephenson could tell something was awry with Ben Roethlisberger.

    Stephenson, the owner of the Bagel and Deli Shop here in this quintessential college town, the home of Miami University, was attending a celebrity golf tournament, and Roethlisberger was playing in it.

    A snapshot of the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and former Miami star sticks to the wall of Stephenson's restaurant, an Oxford institution for nearly 37 years on High Street, the busy main drag. The two have known each other since Roethlisberger arrived on campus in 2000, and Stephenson wanted to say hello.

    "I could tell by Ben's demeanor that he didn't want to talk to anybody," he said.

    Stephenson said that was the day the public learned of a civil lawsuit filed against Roethlisberger by a hotel worker, who claims he raped her during the same event a year earlier in Lake Tahoe. An emotional Roethlisberger denied the allegation at a news conference.

    The lawsuit marked the beginning of Roethlisberger's legal problems as well as the erosion of his public image. That image took another hit this month when a 20 year-old college student claimed Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her in the dingy restroom of a Milledgeville, Ga., nightclub. Law enforcement is investigating the allegation, which the quarterback's attorney has denied.

    The sordid nature of the allegations has troubled the Steelers organization, fans and those who watched Roethlisberger grow up.

    Growing up in Findlay, Ohio and then moving to Oxford, Roethlisberger, 28, by all accounts avoided trouble. Now he faces potential criminal charges, suspension by the NFL and ridicule from the national media. In recent weeks, the two-time Super Bowl champion has been the butt of jokes on Jay Leno and a mocking episode of "South Park."

    Jon Wauford, a former Miami assistant who recruited Roethlisberger, said that based on his knowledge of Roethlisberger as a young man, what he has been hearing is "not in character" for him.

    "He was in our backyard, in our kitchen," said Tim Brudgeman of Findlay, director of the Hancock Parks District. "Our daughter double-dated with him. What a gentleman. There are crazy kids out there doing stupid things. He wasn't like that."

    Some believe Roethlisberger is the victim in these allegations of sexual assault.

    "We feel he's probably being taken advantage of financially, and he's being targeted," Brugeman said.

    Oxford attorney Daniel Haughey, said: "Guys that are high-profile are often lightning rods for these things to happen."

    In the decade since he advanced from high school star to elite NFL quarterback, the image and perception of Roethlisberger has changed -- and not all for the better. He remains beloved in his hometown, where he visits and sponsors a charity basketball game, but the stories about him have caused some distress.

    "He always handled himself so well that I thought something like this could never happen to him," said veteran Findlay Courier sportswriter Dave Hanneman, who wrote extensively of Roethlisberger during his prep career. "Even in high school. He did everything the right way. That's what baffles me most of all. He's damaging his career and his reputation."

    In Oxford, where Roethlisberger and his entourage visit a couple of times a year, he seems to have alienated some in a community that once adored him. And it has nothing to do with the allegations of the two women..

    "It's kind of sad what's happened to him," said Josh Hernandez, a bartender at the Smokin' Ox barbeque restaurant. "He lost his reputation in town even before the first allegation."

    Dean Horn, who lives nearby in West College Corner, Ind., claims Roethlisberger cursed at his girlfriend in front of his young daughter after he was asked to sign a couple of helmets after playing golf.

    "He normally has a reputation of coming to town and being a jackass to everyone," Horn said. "He won't sign autographs. He's rude. He's just too big for the fans."

    Jake Korineck, a bartender at Mac and Joes's, has heard the negative comments and rejects them. Korineck said part of that perception results from the attention Roethlisberger gets when he visits.

    "I know when he's in town, it's the biggest deal in Oxford," said Korineck, a Miami ball boy during Roethlisberger's record-setting junior year. "I think he's getting a bad name. Being a superstar, sometimes it gets old. There have been times where he's eating and people still ask him for autographs. I can see how anybody would be annoyed by that.

    "This town is small. If you get a negative perception, it just spreads. But I think it's kind of (expletive) that people perceive him like that. We're not in his shoes. . . .But he's still young. He's still single. Why not go out and party? He might be a little crazy, but he's living the life."

    Miami University, known as the "Cradle of Coaches," experienced a football revival under Roethlisberger, posting its best record ever in 2003. The following spring, the Steelers took Roethlisberger with the 11th pick in the NFL draft.

    "We're mainly a (Cincinnati) Bengals city, but a lot of Steelers' jerseys have come out," Haughey said. "People are disappointed to hear his name brought up this way. But at the same time, they want to give him the benefit of the doubt."

    According to court records and those familiar with how things work in Oxford, there is no evidence of off-field problems with Roethlisberger during his time here. Likewise, in Findlay, Roethlisberger appears to have been the model citizen.

    "Ben was generally thought of in a very positive light," said Haughey, a county judge and adjunct professor at Miami whose firm handles cases involving athletes. "I never heard any negatives, and it's hard to keep skeletons in a closet here."

    Stephenson said Roethlisberger was seen out and about in town during his first two years, but after he got more serious about developing his football abilities, "you never saw him."

    According to Haughey, where some universities often hide athletes' off-field transgressions or make them mysteriously disappear, Miami does not afford special treatment.

    "Football players are not the gods of High Street," he said. "They're not gonna be afforded any breaks."

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  2. #2

    Re: Ohio towns still have lots of love for Big Ben

    I hear alot of contrasting stories about Ben. I have to think there is a good reason for that. We love to place people in boxes. It makes us comfortable to label. Either someone is a jackasc or a good guy. Alot of times who we present ourselves to be on a certain day is very mood dependent. We can be a good person in a bad mood approached in an abrasive/obtrusive way and act out.

    I try to put myself in his shoes (very difficult to do considering I have no idea what it's like to live that life). But, I have to assume it would get old. Everywhere you go, eating, watching a movie, shopping etc to be approached 10, 20, 50 times for autographs especially with some of these people approaching him to make a buck on ebay. Sometimes he is cool with it...good mood and invited the attention. Other times he can come across as a jerk while not wanting to be messed with. I take very little stake in comments about him being difficult when approached for an autograph because I know that's not what he does all the time.

  3. #3
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    Re: Ohio towns still have lots of love for Big Ben

    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn
    I hear alot of contrasting stories about Ben. I have to think there is a good reason for that. We love to place people in boxes. It makes us comfortable to label. Either someone is a jackasc or a good guy. Alot of times who we present ourselves to be on a certain day is very mood dependent. We can be a good person in a bad mood approached in an abrasive/obtrusive way and act out.

    I try to put myself in his shoes (very difficult to do considering I have no idea what it's like to live that life). But, I have to assume it would get old. Everywhere you go, eating, watching a movie, shopping etc to be approached 10, 20, 50 times for autographs especially with some of these people approaching him to make a buck on ebay. Sometimes he is cool with it...good mood and invited the attention. Other times he can come across as a jerk while not wanting to be messed with. I take very little stake in comments about him being difficult when approached for an autograph because I know that's not what he does all the time.
    It has to be annoying but it's part of the job.

    They say you have to be nice on your way up the ladder because you never know who you will meet on the way down. I'm not saying Ben needs to be a robot but he has to remember his job is 24-7-365...

    I've met about 5 to 6 people and the majority say he is a jerk. I'll never forget the guy who owns the bar who said Ben refused to pay a cover... while I can see where Ben is coming from is he really that cheap that he won't pay $10? Stories like that can make one believe Ben has a "kiss the ring" type of attitude.

    Everyone has an opinion though so who knows what is true and what is embellished.

  4. #4

    Re: Ohio towns still have lots of love for Big Ben

    Quote Originally Posted by feltdizz
    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn
    I hear alot of contrasting stories about Ben. I have to think there is a good reason for that. We love to place people in boxes. It makes us comfortable to label. Either someone is a jackasc or a good guy. Alot of times who we present ourselves to be on a certain day is very mood dependent. We can be a good person in a bad mood approached in an abrasive/obtrusive way and act out.

    I try to put myself in his shoes (very difficult to do considering I have no idea what it's like to live that life). But, I have to assume it would get old. Everywhere you go, eating, watching a movie, shopping etc to be approached 10, 20, 50 times for autographs especially with some of these people approaching him to make a buck on ebay. Sometimes he is cool with it...good mood and invited the attention. Other times he can come across as a jerk while not wanting to be messed with. I take very little stake in comments about him being difficult when approached for an autograph because I know that's not what he does all the time.
    It has to be annoying but it's part of the job.

    They say you have to be nice on your way up the ladder because you never know who you will meet on the way down. I'm not saying Ben needs to be a robot but he has to remember his job is 24-7-365...

    If he wants to go crazy leave the country and go to Brazil or Mexico... you can be as wild as you want and it's not a big deal.
    I hear ya and agree. It's also a gratitude issue. It's easier to "be on call" 24-7-365 when you can keep a proper frame of mind. He needs to constantly remind himself that he gets to play a game for loads of money. Most people would give their left arm to do what he does for a living. I get it...not wanting to be bugged. But, he is in a unique position and it's part of the job.

    Wait...did we just agree on Ben??? Something isn't right here.

  5. #5
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    Re: Ohio towns still have lots of love for Big Ben

    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn

    I hear ya and agree. It's also a gratitude issue. It's easier to "be on call" 24-7-365 when you can keep a proper frame of mind. He needs to constantly remind himself that he gets to play a game for loads of money. Most people would give their left arm to do what he does for a living. I get it...not wanting to be bugged. But, he is in a unique position and it's part of the job.

    Wait...did we just agree on Ben??? Something isn't right here.

  6. #6

    Re: Ohio towns still have lots of love for Big Ben

    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn
    I hear alot of contrasting stories about Ben. I have to think there is a good reason for that. We love to place people in boxes. It makes us comfortable to label. Either someone is a jackasc or a good guy. Alot of times who we present ourselves to be on a certain day is very mood dependent. We can be a good person in a bad mood approached in an abrasive/obtrusive way and act out.

    I try to put myself in his shoes (very difficult to do considering I have no idea what it's like to live that life). But, I have to assume it would get old. Everywhere you go, eating, watching a movie, shopping etc to be approached 10, 20, 50 times for autographs especially with some of these people approaching him to make a buck on ebay. Sometimes he is cool with it...good mood and invited the attention. Other times he can come across as a jerk while not wanting to be messed with. I take very little stake in comments about him being difficult when approached for an autograph because I know that's not what he does all the time.
    Sometimes a person may be dealing with something that effects them deeply and is approached at the wrong time.

    They're human just like we are. To expect them to behave differently is foolish.

    Now if they were diplomats then that, by definition, is an entirely different matter.

  7. #7
    Legend papillon's Avatar
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    Re: Ohio towns still have lots of love for Big Ben

    I live close to Baltimore and I had the distinct pleasure of watching Cal Ripken play baseball and handle his incredible fame. He couldn't go out without being hounded, after each game signing autographs became a full time job and granting interviews was a daily obligation. He accepted all of this and handled it with aplomb, dignity and class, very few people were turned down for autographs, dinner out for him was a circus and he accepted it, interviews were disliked but necessary and never a bad word was spoken of the man.

    He understood his job didn't begin and end on the field and he accepted that situation to gain great wealth. Cal Ripken never turned down an autograph, what he did was have the head of security be the bad guy and inform people that Cal would be signing only 10 more and that he has other obligations to take care of. Informing them that returning tomorrow was always an option that Cal signs after every game.

    I miss Cal Ripken and I'm a Pirate fan. Tony Gwynn was another athlete of the same mold.

    Pappy


    1.15) Ryan Shazier - ILB/OLB
    2.46) Stephon Tuitt - DE
    3.97) Dri Archer - RB
    4.118 ) Martavis Bryant - WR
    5.157) Shaquille Richardson - CB
    6.173) Wesley Johnson - OT
    6.192) Jordan Zumwalt - ILB
    7.215) Daniel McCullers - DT
    7.230) Rob Blanchflower - TE

    "Before you can win a game, you have to not lose it." -- Chuck Noll

  8. #8

    Re: Ohio towns still have lots of love for Big Ben

    Quote Originally Posted by papillon
    I live close to Baltimore and I had the distinct pleasure of watching Cal Ripken play baseball and handle his incredible fame. He couldn't go out without being hounded, after each game signing autographs became a full time job and granting interviews was a daily obligation. He accepted all of this and handled it with aplomb, dignity and class, very few people were turned down for autographs, dinner out for him was a circus and he accepted it, interviews were disliked but necessary and never a bad word was spoken of the man.

    He understood his job didn't begin and end on the field and he accepted that situation to gain great wealth. Cal Ripken never turned down an autograph, what he did was have the head of security be the bad guy and inform people that Cal would be signing only 10 more and that he has other obligations to take care of. Informing them that returning tomorrow was always an option that Cal signs after every game.

    I miss Cal Ripken and I'm a Pirate fan. Tony Gwynn was another athlete of the same mold.

    Pappy
    For every Ripken and Gwynn you mention there are 100 other guys who are not like them. People are different. To expect them all to be like Ripken and Gwynn is incredibly unrealistic.

  9. #9

    Re: Ohio towns still have lots of love for Big Ben

    Quote Originally Posted by cruzer8
    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn
    I hear alot of contrasting stories about Ben. I have to think there is a good reason for that. We love to place people in boxes. It makes us comfortable to label. Either someone is a jackasc or a good guy. Alot of times who we present ourselves to be on a certain day is very mood dependent. We can be a good person in a bad mood approached in an abrasive/obtrusive way and act out.

    I try to put myself in his shoes (very difficult to do considering I have no idea what it's like to live that life). But, I have to assume it would get old. Everywhere you go, eating, watching a movie, shopping etc to be approached 10, 20, 50 times for autographs especially with some of these people approaching him to make a buck on ebay. Sometimes he is cool with it...good mood and invited the attention. Other times he can come across as a jerk while not wanting to be messed with. I take very little stake in comments about him being difficult when approached for an autograph because I know that's not what he does all the time.
    Sometimes a person may be dealing with something that effects them deeply and is approached at the wrong time.

    They're human just like we are. To expect them to behave differently is foolish.

    Now if they were diplomats then that, by definition, is an entirely different matter.
    I certainly understand that. I will say though that Ben is a representative of the Steelers 24/7/365. And I understand there are things that effect him on a deep level and sometimes some anti-social behavior is unavoidable. I do not get this on Ben's level but I live in a small town. I am approached at Wal-Mart, the local mexican eatery, Krogers etc with stories/questions about bleeding hemmoroids, rashes, gout etc. And honestly, sometimes I just want to be left alone. But, I realize that even though it might not be an optimal time to discuss such matters I need to at the very least put on a smiley face and be a good representative of my profession. Am I perfect...no. I'm sure I have been less than social in some of these situations but I do try. I try to be interested when I'm not. I try to be pleasant even when I feel like ish. I can't expect anything more from Ben. He won't be perfect.

  10. #10
    Legend papillon's Avatar
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    Re: Ohio towns still have lots of love for Big Ben

    Quote Originally Posted by cruzer8
    Quote Originally Posted by papillon
    I live close to Baltimore and I had the distinct pleasure of watching Cal Ripken play baseball and handle his incredible fame. He couldn't go out without being hounded, after each game signing autographs became a full time job and granting interviews was a daily obligation. He accepted all of this and handled it with aplomb, dignity and class, very few people were turned down for autographs, dinner out for him was a circus and he accepted it, interviews were disliked but necessary and never a bad word was spoken of the man.

    He understood his job didn't begin and end on the field and he accepted that situation to gain great wealth. Cal Ripken never turned down an autograph, what he did was have the head of security be the bad guy and inform people that Cal would be signing only 10 more and that he has other obligations to take care of. Informing them that returning tomorrow was always an option that Cal signs after every game.

    I miss Cal Ripken and I'm a Pirate fan. Tony Gwynn was another athlete of the same mold.

    Pappy
    For every Ripken and Gwynn you mention there are 100 other guys who are not like them. People are different. To expect them all to be like Ripken and Gwynn is incredibly unrealistic.
    All I'm saying is that should be their goal and not Michael Irvin. I don't expect them all to be like Ripken, it will never happen, that doesn't mean you don't set the bar high. They challenge themselves on the field, why not off the field?

    Pappy


    1.15) Ryan Shazier - ILB/OLB
    2.46) Stephon Tuitt - DE
    3.97) Dri Archer - RB
    4.118 ) Martavis Bryant - WR
    5.157) Shaquille Richardson - CB
    6.173) Wesley Johnson - OT
    6.192) Jordan Zumwalt - ILB
    7.215) Daniel McCullers - DT
    7.230) Rob Blanchflower - TE

    "Before you can win a game, you have to not lose it." -- Chuck Noll

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