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"Ben being Ben" means anything you want it to mean. It means Ben just shook off a 320lb defensive lineman and threw a 44-yard touchdown. It means Ben threw his third interception in the first half of a playoff game. It means Ben took his offensive linemen out to dinner. It means Ben makes the greatest throw in Super Bowl history. It means Ben describes his injury as "Doc said it just nicked my aorta." It means Ben is facing sexual assault allegations. It means Ben's career record is 87-39. It means Ben's dad is named Ken. It means Ben bought his offensive linemen new watches. It means Ben rolls out of bed and wins 10 games. It means Ben rolls his ankle and makes sure the cameras are watching as he climbs in a golf cart.
To GTOG, what makes Ben Ben is that he's completely unaware that he's a parody of himself. He's the kind of guy who doesn't realize Kenny Powers isn't a real baseball player.
Read on for more about Ben being Ben.
Before last season, Ben insisted that his 10-day, 12-rounds-of-golf trip to Ireland was not a vacation. As the greatest opening sentence in the history of sports writing put it, "Ben Roethlisberger will prepare himself for the new NFL season by embarking upon an extraordinary golfing marathon he believes will sharpen his focus in advance of the 2012 campaign." It continued, with quotes from Big Ben himself:
“You really have to think your way around and get the grips with the course and the difficulties it offers you. I am a pretty cerebral guy, so it is perfect to have that kind of activity in the offseason that keeps your brain ticking.”Before this season, Ben did more than just get the grips and keep his brain ticking -- he added kayaking to his offseason regimen, crediting this "not traditional" training (read: "I went on vacation") with improving his arm strength and velocity from the end of last season when, in case he hadn't made you aware, he played through a Walter Reed-worthy assortment of injuries.
Ben has even parodied himself into being a thorn in the coaches' side, taking routine passive-aggressive shots at offensive coordinator Todd Haley (my personal favorite: "I joke and say that my final paper for Miami on Tibet was a lot easier than the Rosetta Stone we're doing now here"), playing through injuries he shouldn't, and blocking the coaches' view from the sideline with his over-sized head and body.
|Wreckage of Amelia Earhart's plane was found in Ben's hood.|
But last year, in addition to 26 TDs, 8INTs, and 97.0 QB rating in only 13 starts, Ben being Ben also meant this:
- In Week 1, down 25-19 to Denver with 2 minutes left, he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
- In Week 14, down 20-3 to San Diego in the 3rd quarter, he "threw" a fumble off his own tight end's ass that was recovered by San Diego for a touchdown. It was the Mark Sanchez butt fumble, minus the New York media.
- In Week 15, he threw an interception in overtime against Dallas. It was returned to the Steelers' 1 yard line, and the Cowboys kicked the winning field goal.
- In Week 16 against Cincinnati, tied 10-10 at him, he threw an interception with 17 seconds left. One play later the Steelers had their 8th loss.
While still effective, the edge he gives the Steelers at QB in 2013 -- and beyond -- isn't so clear.
Brees, Brady, Manning, and Rodgers aren't slowing down. Eli is Ben, only more boring. Matt Ryan is on the cusp of a Super Bowl. Joe Flacco had arguably the greatest postseason in history, and is 3 years younger than Ben with a 9-4 postseason record (19TDs, 8 INTs). Matt Schaub and Andy Dalton are competent enough. Matt Stafford, Jay Cutler, and Tony Romo -- would it shock you if they won a playoff game?
Andrew Luck, RGIII, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, and Cam Newton are already Pro Bowl-caliber, but are also 3-4 years away from even entering their prime. We haven't seen enough of Christian Ponder, Ryan Tannehill and Jake Locker to rule any of them out from developing into solid quarterbacks. Phil Rivers, Sam Bradford, Mike Vick, and Josh Freeman -- they aren't great, but they're a lot more competent than the Brooks Bollingers, Joey Harringtons, Gus Frerottes and Kyle Bollers that were rounding out the bottom tier of QB starters in 2005.
That's 24 quarterbacks who range from decent to excellent. Ben's better than almost all of those guys, but what is he capable of if the defense slips? We don't really know.
Never was Ben being Ben more evident than in the second game of the preseason against the Redskins, when Ben threw a screen pass directly into the arms of a defensive lineman, who could have walked to the Steelers' end zone slower than Mario Lemieux walks to a ceremonial puck drop.
|Mario being Mario.|
But the bigger problem for Ben and the Steelers is that even if that drive had ended in a touchdown, the score would have only been, fittingly, 7-7.