The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for

It helped another QB


Within an hour after word of Ben Roethlisberger's suspension got out, there were reports that the Steelers were willing to trade him to a team with a pick in the top ten in Thursday night's draft. My first thought was that Cleveland was the perfect match, simply because Mike Holmgren, who now runs the Browns, has already had a quarterback whose immaturity once rivaled Ben's: the young Brett Favre.

It was just a thought and who knows if Pittsburgh would do what its neighbors to the East did when they sent Donovan McNabb to the Redskins -- deal a franchise QB within their own division. But it makes sense at this level -- Holmgren is one of the few people in the NFL with the experience of turning a man around a man who acts like a kid.

In fact, that's what the Steelers have been dealing with since 2004: a spoiled teenager, a football star enabled by those around him because he is so talented on the field that they look the other way at immature acts off it. There have been signals, going back to 2005, when Ben whined before getting on his motorcycle: "I don't want to wear my helmet if I don't want to.'' When he nearly got killed a year or so later in an accident, the lesson was learned.

When I first heard about the latest episode, the alleged assault of a college coed in Milledgeville, Ga., I wondered why a star NFL quarterback was chasing college kids when there were plenty of adult women who presumably would be glad to date him.

After the police reports made what happened clearer, I got it: Ben's a 28-year-old college kid unready for a mature relationship, one that can be maintained without the enhancement of alcohol. The reports confirmed that: Roethlisberger apparently wanted the young lady, already drunk, to drink even more before he took her into the bathroom for their sexual encounter.

My colleague Clay Travis at, a lawyer, questioned after the suspension the legality of Roger Goodell's suspension of Roethlisberger for 4-6 games despite the lack of police charges against him. He also made another point: if what Ben is alleged to have done really happened, is that punishment sufficient, even though it will cost him more than $2 million. I'll go with No. 2: this isn't the first time that Roethlisberger has engaged in less than savory behavior with women. Entitled high school jocks are nothing if not recidivists and my inclination might be to sit him for the entire season.

Would that help?

Favre matured with the help of rehab, which was announced as treatment for an addiction to painkillers. When he got out, he objected to one of the provisions the league set down -- that he not drink. More recently, he has acknowledged that helped him grow up.

I don't know if Roethlisberger needs rehab for addiction.

But he certainly needs counseling and it's prescribed by the terms of Goodell's suspension. If Ben behaves, he could be back after sitting for four games instead of six although that doesn't erase the underlying problem. Does he really mature or does he go back to being an entitled high school jock?

That's something even he doesn't know right now.

By Dave Goldberg  |  April 21, 2010; 4:04 PM ET  | Category:  Ben Roethlisberger , Crime , NFL , Pittsburgh Steelers , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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