On the same day that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played half of a game with a torn meniscus, Bart Scott of CBS trotted out an old #narrative about Ben.
Scott called Roethlisberger a “drama king,” an apparently P.C. and/or gender accurate twist on the “drama queen” label applied to Roethlisberger in the past.
“What did I do to deserve that?” Roethlisberger told Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “All I’ve ever done is keep playing and keep my mouth shut. You just have to shrug that stuff off. But I would tell him to go see John [Norwig] our trainer and check out my medical file. It’s pretty thick. You can’t make that stuff up.”
The perception of injury embellishment arose more than a decade ago, when Roethlisberger claimed that he played the 2004 AFC title game with multiple broken toes and former Steelers coach Bill Cowher publicly disagreed. Nearly six years ago, Roethlisberger claimed that he was playing with a broken foot, and the team publicly disputed it.
Those are the only two tangible examples of apparent or actual embellishment from Roethlisberger’s extensive, 13-year career, and it’s been years since any question has emerged over whether he attempted to make himself look more injured than he really was.
Roethlisberger has indeed played with and through plenty of injuries, and he has played better than ever late in his career. To the extent Bart Scott was suggesting that Roethlisberger exited Sunday’s game with a trumped up ailment, it’s clearly a real injury — and Roethlisberger continued to play when he easily could have taken the rest of the day off. (In other words, “can’t wait” for Bart’s apology this week.)
Media and fans tend to cling to our #narratives because coming up with new ones requires thought and effort. It’s too easy and convenient to adopt a viewpoint on someone and stick to it, subsequent facts be damned. For Roethlisberger, a perception rooted in a pair of isolated incidents at some point should yield to a broader body of work that suggests a willingness to play with injuries, and to continuously subject himself to more of them.