[I know you fine folks who read this column don't typically care about sports, but I also know that you do care about organized drinking, which means you'll probably be attending a Super Bowl party this weekend if, for no other reason, to watch the Captain America trailer and get drunk while it's still daytime on a Sunday in a socially acceptable situation. This might be the only time you're around sports all year and, in an effort to make your brief window of Super Bowl sobriety as comfortable as possible, I'd like to teach you a little bit about the folks who will be competing this Sunday. This way, you'll be able to speak knowledgeably and fit in with your friends. For example, some of your fellow viewers might call Aaron Rodgers "Favre Junior," or "Whatshisname," because Rodgers is often (unfavorably) compared to his long-removed predecessor, Bret Favre. Similarly, your friends may refer to Ben Roethlisberger as "The Rapist," or "Wasn't He That Guy Who Raped Some Woman?," because he is a rapist. Study the following information, a closer look at Roethlisberger's statements from Super Bowl Media Day, as it will prove to be invaluable to you.]
Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, Commissioner Goodell, Coach Tomlin, friends, family and Gatorade, I want to thank you for coming out today, it's been a while since we last spoke. How's everybody doing?
I'll admit it was a tough year for old Big Ben. Commissioner Goodell suspended me for the first six games of the season because I was accused of sexual assault last year. Twice. It was a really dark time for me.
But, not only did I come back, but I came back even sooner than I was supposed to, after only four games. I don't think I could have done any of it without God. I thank God every single day of my life that I was born a) super good at football and b) white. If either of those things were different, man, would I be in prison right now.
My dedication to faith renewed, I turned to prayer for answers in the face of this trying time. I won't lie, it was a very difficult situation for me and my family, but I knew if I just kept my head down and won a bunch of football games, I would rise above those allegations and everyone would eventually stop caring about them. Is Ray Lewis in the audience? That guy knows what I'm talking about.
When we won the AFC Championship, I was thrilled that I'd beaten enough of the other football teams that I could put almost all of the whole sordid business behind me. I imagine one more win, at the Super Bowl this Sunday, oughta put me right over the mark. Yeah. One more ring and we're totally square on that whole rape thing, America.
On the Future of the Steelers/Any Potential Rape Allegations
I once said "if I can win a Super Bowl or two or three, nobody can say anything to me. I can do anything I want." Philosophically, that is as true today as it was all those years ago, the only thing that's changed is the number. Two or three wins might get me off the hook for these charges, but make no mistake: I will keep shambling around the Midwest and stumbling my way into big, hairy trouble, like the drunken bear caricature you all love comparing me to.
I'm going to keep screwing up. That is my promise to you. And if, two months from now, I get another sexual assault charge, or photographed acting as the manipulative ringmaster in an underground dog-fighting ring, or another sexual assault charge, then, America, I vow to bring even more championships to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I'm a fair player; I know that I need to pay for my sins, and as I understand it, you are now accepting Super Bowl rings as legal tender. My pursuit of rings will be as tireless as my pursuit of sexual coercion with college students in public restrooms, which is to say, inexhaustibly so.
Look on the bright side- my public sexual indiscretions will be like the groundhog seeing its shadow, but for football instead of winter. If you read a story in the paper about me allegedly being found hanging upside-down in some freaky sex club over in downtown Georgia that I like a whole lot, then you'll know that you're going to see some amazing Steelers Football! Every filthy sex act earns you an electrifying season with one of the best teams in the league. You can't lose!
And if you're wondering, yes, I intend to do this for as long as it takes. I don't care how many Super Bowls I need to win to earn your respect, America. The way I see it, there are two records out there: Joe Montana's, for Super Bowl championships (as quarterback), and Brett Favre's, for most shamelessly egregious dick-brandishing.
Big Ben Roethlisberger wants both of those records.
You're Going to Like Me Again
You know how I spent a ton of time throwing some of the slowest yet most effective passes in the NFL this season? Well, that's not all I did. I also got astoundingly fat. I borrowed a page from Rex Ryan's book and really fatted myself up this year.
"Oh, yeah, I was talking about an actual book."
Why did I do it? For you, America. Everybody loves a big, jolly, fat guy. If I tried to walk back into your hearts as the lean, trim and intimidatingly cut athlete I used to be, there's no way you'd welcome me back. But, hey, I'm not that guy. I'm the chubby, bearded, good-times guy, I'm your buddy! If you don't think my flabby approach to friendship will work, well, I've got bad news for you...
You Kinda Sorta Like Me Again Anyway
Look, I might look like the kind of person who has trouble with math and sometimes forgets that he's talking with his fist fully in his mouth, (and I do and I am), but I'm not an idiot. I see what's going on in the media, I read the stories and reports as they come out. A year ago, you couldn't find one positive story about me in any paper or on any blog anywhere. Now? The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says that my trail to redemption is "off to a good start." TMZ accuses me of being out partying like a lunatic and The Kansas City Star actually defends me to make sure my image isn't tarnished. Former Steelers quarterback and current grizzled prospector Terry Bradshaw, (who famously shredded me in the media last year and refused to talk to me after the second rape allegation), apologized to me on air and gave me a big hug.
All the press is sending the same message: The tide is turning on Big Ben Roethlisberger, in a good way. And I know why.
I'm Probably Going to Win the Super Bowl
Just straight up win the hell out of it, I'm not even kidding. I'm gonna win this thing, and do you know how I know? Because you know, otherwise you wouldn't suddenly start being all nice to me, you're laying the groundwork that will eventually lead you to welcoming me back with open arms. Because the Super Bowl is about America.
The Super Bowl is an event where you take the biggest, strongest, fastest, angriest monsters that God and science made and force them to scream, sprint and crash into each other for three hours. And winning is important. Whoever stands out on top of the pile at the end of the day gets a shiny trophy and gets to be King of the Monsters, (until next year, when the battle will begin anew). Holding up your Super Bowl winner, your modern gladiator, is your way of telling the rest of the world "These are our champions. These are the strongest, scariest, loudest creatures we could find; they are America. Do not fuck with us."
You turn every winning team into America. When the Saints won last year, they were "America's Team," because they rose from the ashes of Katrina, overcoming adversity just like America. When we won two years ago, the narrative was all about how the city of Pittsburgh needed this, because it was such a blue collar, working class town, the kind of town that then-new recession hit hardest. Our victory brought joy to Pittsburgh and, it followed, the rest of America during economically trying times. When the Giants beat the powerhouse Patriots three years ago, the narrative was all about the scrappy underdogs who managed to pull out a victory when everyone counted them out, just like America in the Revolutionary War. New team, same story.
Regardless of who wins, the press is going to shape the story and turn the victors into America's winners. And you know we can't be both the villains and America's winners. Now that I'm clearly going to win, you're on my side again. That's why Big Ben's been getting all of this "On second thought he seems like a nice guy" press all of a sudden. At the end of the day, America would rather pretend their championship-winning MVP was a polite, God-fearing good-old-boy, instead of an [alleged] rapist.
Even if I Don't Win
I should be clear, I fully intend to win, but even if I don't, and even if I get kicked off the team, I still vow to continue finding creative new ways to be scummy and awful. My promise to slough through life as an increasingly-Homer-Simpson-looking dick machine is no way tied to my football career.
How did these hyper-specific tropes spread so quickly?
The Hollywood rumor mill has been playing games with celebrity deaths for at least a century.