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Who’s Got Big Ben’s Back?

Posted By Steven Keys On Nov 24 2010 @ 6:33 am In Pittsburgh Steelers | No Comments

Come seasons end, Ben Roethlisberger should have a sit-down with his agent and (contract permitting) consider other opportunities around the League where his skills & grit would be better appreciated.

Last Sunday when Oakland Raiders’ DE Richard Seymour sent the Steelers’ QB tumbling to the turf with a sucker-punch Ben’s teammates had little reaction.

Even though Seymour has yet to make an apology for the incident, on Monday the League was quick to hand down a modest fine ($25,000) and no suspension.

If you didn’t already know the facts you’d think Mr. Seymour was the victim here, given the forgiving tone of many talking-heads in the Monday sports chatter.

ESPN’s Trent Dilfer chose words like “classy” and “family man” to describe his Oakland friend, while Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin calmly dismissed the incident.

Richard can now consider himself a charter member of the Raiders’ Free Punch Club.

It was just last year when Raiders’ coach Tom Cable was embroiled in controversy over an alleged punch-out of assistant coach Randy Hanson.  Roger Goodell took no action as his office determined a file-cabinet was somehow responsible for Hanson’s broken jaw.

It’s not the League’s restrained-response which has me perplexed, even though it’s not Seymour’s first transgression (2009: $7500 hair-pulling / $10,000 hitting a Brown / AP) and the decision seems at odds with the NFL’s recent position on dangerous hits.  I’m inclined to defer to the experts here.

What has me dumbfounded is the lackadaisical (non) response from the Steelers’ camp.

Tomlin’s detachment is reminiscent of White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen a few years back after the Twins’ Torii Hunter slid into home plate but veered off-course, taking a cheap-shot at Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski.  Guillen praised Hunter: good hard slide.

What then should Roethlisberger’s teammates have done on the field?  Something rational, but physical, to show Ben they have his back covered.  A display of unity telling Seymour and the League that you don’t batter our leader and disrespect Heinz Field.

Hockey players handle these incidents differently.  In the NHL no mistreatment of a teammate goes unattended or unpunished.  In that sense they’re like family.

Had Ben made incendiary remarks of a personal nature (2006 World Cup when Zidane head-butted chatty Marco Materazzi), I could appreciate Seymour’s response.

But all indications are that Roethlisberger did nothing wrong.  Oakland linebacker Quentin Groves: “As Ben goes and tries and breaks up the fight, Richard reacts” (AP).

Last year it was Dr. Hines Ward ragging on Roethlisberger for failing to bounce back quicker from a concussion.  Now this Seymour incident.

A third Super Bowl victory in 2011 and Big Ben will want to cement his legacy in Pittsburgh. Anything less and he should do some serious thinking in the off-season about whether or not the Steelers are fully vested in continuing the Roethlisberger era.

Minnesota might be looking for a new quarterback (among other things) next January.  And I’m guessing owner Zygi Wilf is gonna’ be in a spending mood.

Keys to Sport

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