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Saturday, April 17, 2010
More thoughts from Steeler Nation

By James Walker
ESPN.com

On Thursday we ran a feature on how Ben Roethlisberger's second sexual assault allegation in less than a year has divided Steeler Nation.

Unfortunately, I cannot print everyone's thoughts from the hundreds and hundreds of responses we received in our AFC North inbox. So this weekend I decided to print more opinions from Pittsburgh Steelers fans on Roethlisberger, which represent various sides of this polarizing issue:

Brian from Holly Springs, N.C., writes: The slate's not clean by any stretch of the imagination. Ben is clearly having off-field issues and continues to put himself into situations where his character can be called into question. Is he a great QB? Yes. But is he a great person? That's clearly in doubt at this point. My 12-year-old son recently decided to ask for a Troy Polamalu jersey because he said "I don't want to wear No. 7 now." The Steelers have always prided themselves on having great players both on and off the field. Ben is putting that at risk with his off-field issues.

Gregg B from Pittsburgh writes: Ben is a wonderful NFL QB. Unfortunately, either he has a dark side to his personality or he lacks the judgment required to succeed in the world outside of football. As good as he is, Pittsburgh must begin to develop a post-Ben solution. The franchise can't rely on Ben -- he's proven that too many times.

J. Scott from West Point, N.Y., writes: I am very disappointed in Big Ben. I know all things are not black and white (or gold in this case), but he seems to be spending all his time in gray areas. When I was a company commander in the army, I always told my soldiers that nothing good ever happened after midnight. Maybe he should rethink the company he keeps.

Darren from Pittsburgh writes: Am I missing something about the Steelers this offseason? Did I miss reading that Big Ben was convicted? This is AMERICA for crying out loud. This guy didn't get convicted of a crime but is being hung out to dry by the Steelers' organization. High-profile athletes get extorted all the time and accused of outrageous things just for money. This seems to be a crime all on its own if Big Ben gets suspended for doing nothing wrong. I will no longer be a Steelers fan if they trade him away.

Hung Phan writes: I'll support Roethlisberger now more than I would if he was standing trial and not playing football. If he's not playing, he really doesn't mean anything to me.

Josh from Ashland, Ohio, writes: The only thing that matters is winning. If we go and win another Lombardi trophy this year, most will be forgotten. Although he must stop putting himself in situations that can affect the franchise. What I don’t understand is why cant he focus on football for like 5-6 more years, become more of a legend, then go out and party? He's an elite quarterback right now. If he becomes legendary, there would be no limit to the 'fun' he could have. Someone needs to tell him this.

Craig from Avon, Ohio, writes: I'm born and raised in the City of Champions and a lifelong Steeler fan living in enemy territory. Ben is our quarterback. He is not a role model, never has been and will never be regardless of the outcome of these allegations. We cheer him on Sunday's that's it. People who look to athletes (or entertainers or politicians) to be role models are missing an important fact of life: Most of these guys have NOTHING in common with us. They live a different life in almost everything they do versus the great majority of the rest of us. Why we hold them up as who or what we aspire to be baffles me. I am Steeler fan always and a Ben fan on Sundays, but only until our next great quarterback comes along then I'll be a Steeler fan and a fan of his. This is sports, not life.

Anne from Midland, Texas, writes: I've been a Steeler fan since I was 14 (longer than Ben has been alive). So that's not likely to change because of the actions of one...um, or two or three players. As a fan of the game, I absolutely love watching Ben play. As a Steeler fan, it won't be his play that wins back my support, it will be his future behavior as the "face" of the team I've loved for so long.

Marcus from Miami writes: Big Ben is not off the hook just because no charges will be filed, nor with me or Roger Goodell. He is on thin ice. However, he plays for the Steelers. So it is only logical that I support him this season. If he has the same numbers he did last season, and he leads us to the playoffs or possibly a Super Bowl, I will completely forget his three incidents.

Harvey "Mr. Steeler" Aronson from Jacksonville, Fla., writes: Ben Roethlisberger, if he doesn't learn from this latest incident he may never just get it. He needs to improve his maturity level off the field and begin to act like a team leader during the off-season. He has every right to have a social life but he must do it wisely. I also think he needs to work on his reputation around Steeler Nation as a person off the field as many right now see him as a big jerk. He needs to be as personable as possible when seeing, meeting, and greeting fans. His on the field abilities speak for itself. If he continues to act recklessly off the field his career in Black and Gold will not have much time left.

This is the first of two parts Saturday. More thoughts from Steeler Nation on Roethlisberger is coming up next.