When the Steelers host the Lions on Saturday in Pittsburgh’s preseason opener, it’s unknown whether and to what extent quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be on the field.
It’s also unknown whether and to what extent he’ll be booed off it.
In the wake of his Milledgeville misadventures, an unprecedented (by Pittsburgh standards) degree of hostility emerged locally, with the local media dropping the pom-poms and taking the gloves off — and residents sharing every unflattering anecdote imaginable regarding the man who has led the team to two Super Bowl wins.
More recently, the mood has changed, buoyed by the positive reception Roethlisberger received when camp opened, an event more likely to attract those motivated to embrace the fallen star than those who want to chant “she said no!” Also, more and more Steelers fans seem to be realizing that, regardless of what the guy did or didn’t do on the night the lights went out in Georgia, the desire to win a seventh Super Bowl overcomes the inclination to 86 the starting quarterback.
“They’ve been awesome,” Roethlisberger recently told the AP regarding the reception he has received at camp. “I
think and hope it will be awesome.”
But here’s the reality. Plenty of seasoned season-ticket holders no longer care for the guy, and those folks likely don’t feel strongly enough about the situation to drive to Latrobe. Also, boos carry a lot more effectively than cheers.
So we expect a mixture on Saturday night, but we also expect the boos to be audible.
Not as audible as they’ll be, however, whenever Roethlisberger plays in another town.