Monday, February 7, 2011


There has got to be something wrong with me. This won't make no damn sense, but I keep thinking about Ben Roethlisberger and Jesus. Stick with me for a second and I promise this will become even less lucid.

See, this is not really my fault. For the past three weeks, I haven't done anything but teach Art History and watch football. That's not exactly true. I also listened to a boatload of metal and broke the cat of a fully unsavory habit of leaving thank you notes next to the litter box.

But, I've been teaching this semester's crop of first years all about the Renaissance, which involves massive doses of Catholic Jesus art. Old World Jesus. Not that new fangled post-pilgrim stuff that we pass around like a bowl of popcorn stateside. Go ahead, born agains, feel free to damn me, but I've got a Notre Dame degree, infallibility, and Lou Holtz on my side. Bring it.

Anyway, before I slander/libel/blaspheme another dozen denominations, back to the point.

I, like every red-blooded, God-fearing, beef-eating, beer-drinking, gas-guzzling, democracy-bringing American watched the Super Bowl yesterday. I don't give a damn what anyone says, that was a hell of a game. Quietly great. Lots of good downfield blocking and a whole bunch of fun stuff happening away from the ball that I've begun to really appreciate.

And--spoiler alert--the Steelers lost, which somehow made a lot of sense to me in a cosmic, this is the way things go in an Old Testament sort of way. This is where Roethlisberger comes into play. As I'm sure you all know, number 7 has had some problems letting Little Ben do the thinking for Big Ben. No charges were pressed, but the Commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, suspended him for a bunch of games and Ben was subsequently dragged across the coals by the media and everyone else.

Rightfully so. Sexual harassment and assault are among the most offensive and repulsive crimes going, up there with human trafficking, stealing the White House, and enjoying Metallica after Cliff died. So I'm with you when you want to hate Ben.

But I'm not with you when you refuse to allow Ben the right to do his penance and carry on with his life. Same way I did when people tried to keep persecuting Michael Vick after he left prison. I've said it before that America has double-jeopardy laws and Jesus has forgiveness. We all suffer when we cannot move on and allow a person to better themselves and earn a place in society. This is why we should stop putting people in prison and start having them fill in potholes, teach people to read, and garden for the elderly.

So, when Roethlisberger started throwing interceptions, one of them a fantastically fun pick-6, I began to wonder if this was his final act of contrition. This is a guy who won two Super Bowls in his first four seasons and certainly deserves to be considered among the elite QBs in the league. Stat heads and Peyton fans can kiss my grits. I'll take a rings over numbers any day. So, for him to have a tragic evening in front of the entire world must have been gutting. Forget what they're saying about Mendenhall's fumble, Ben's wayward throws were the primary reason the Steelers lost. Say it with me kids: ball control.

Given the epic, public, and immortal devastation of losing a Super Bowl, in conjunction with his season-long drubbing, I believe that we may never see Ben in such a compromised position again. I'm not trying to excuse his prior, horrible behaviors, but I think it hypocritical and cruel of us to carry on with airs of moral rectitude whilst wishing ill on someone we don't actually know and demanding of them a perpetual state of agonized penance. I just don't think that's what Jesus would do.

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