Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger met with the press Thursday following practice after ducking media attention the previous day. He answered only a couple of questions before exiting but expressed optimism going forward:
I appreciate you guys, I know you guys have been waiting a long time to talk to me, as I have to you. I wanted to let you guys know how great it is to be back on the field. It’s been a long time away, it’s been hard. I put a lot of time and effort into working hard on and off the field while I’ve been gone. It’s not the same. I love football to death. But I think it’s meant more to be out here with my teammates, my brothers, my family, if you will, that’s what has really been neat about getting back out here.
I’ve put a lot of thought into my life, the decisions I’ve made in the past. I’ve been sitting at home thinking about things. I’ve been working closely with the commissioner about ways to make corrections, changes. So I’m looking forward to the second chance, and the second opportunity. Not just in football — because I think everyone knows what you’re going to get in football — but in life. I think that’s what’s more important.
Clearly, the nature of Roethlisberger's predicament necessitates that he speak in a roundabout, somewhat vague manner, but this statement - which was unprepared, expository - does not really say much at all.
But still, here is what I can glean from it all.
The big takeaway (apparently) is that this whole ordeal has been "hard" on Roethlisberger. It is strange how quickly the media has performed a complete about-face here - from flaying the quarterback to pitying him and insisting everyone just get back to "focusing on football" and "winning games."
Sure, that is what successful teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers do. But it is a tough pill to swallow so soon, when the disgust at his behavior in Georgia still lingers, at least for me and countless other fans. My only hope is that perhaps Roethlisberger has hit "rock bottom" in terms of screwing up (after all, this is the first time he has ever had to miss time on the field as a result of his off-field idiocy) and maybe he will finally learn that he needs to get his act together.