As we’ve mentioned a time or two this week, the tide of public opinion in Pittsburgh has turned dramatically against Ben Roethlisberger in the wake of a second allegation of sexual assault.
Local talk radio has featured plenty of anecdotal evidence regarding generally boorish behavior from Big Ben (we’ve heard a couple of stories that we possibly will be posting, once they are vetted by the PFT legal team — i.e., me), and his defenders are becoming fewer and farther between.
Perhaps most jarring is the maiden blog voyage of long-time, old-school Pittsburgh sportscaster John Steigerwald, who spent more than two decades on KDKA-TV, who has hosted radio in the Pittsburgh area, and who currently appears on a weekly Sunday night show on WTAE-TV.
Here’s what Steigerwald says about Roethlisberger: “First of all, none of this surprises me. Ben is a bad citizen. He
doesn’t know how to treat people and he definitely doesn’t know how to
handle being the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers. In my more
than 30 years of working in the Pittsburgh sports media, I have never
had any player come close to generating as many unsolicited questions
from fans as Roethlisberger has. They want to know why he’s such a
jackass. And these aren’t just Steelers fans who got turned down for an
autograph. It’s men and women from all walks of life.”
Steigerwald specifically points to a Make-A-Wish child that Roethlisberger allegedly blew off. Per Steigerwald, KDKA opted not to pursue the matter as a news story. Steigerwald later spoke to the parents, who did not want to go public on behalf of their daughter, who had cystic fibrosis.
Steigerwald’s verdict? “Roethlisberger is a punk who needs to be knocked down a peg or two.”
As a general matter, Pittsburgh-area sportscasters tread lightly when it comes to the Steelers, if they value access and cooperation from the organization. Steigerwald’s atypical candor is a sign that, when it comes to Big Ben, the local journalists have either gotten a nod from the team to take off the gloves, or they just don’t care.