Expect Roethlisberger to pass on questions about past

Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger says he doesn't think about last year's offseason problems.
Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger says he doesn't think about last year's offseason problems.
Posted: January 28, 2011

BEN ROETHLISBERGER and the Steelers are scheduled to arrive in Dallas for Super Bowl XLV shortly before noon on Monday. About 90 minutes after that, the media will get the first of four Super Bowl-week cracks at the quarterback during an interview session at the Steelers' Fort Worth hotel.

Roethlisberger would prefer that all of the questions be about next week's big game against the Packers and his quest for a third Super Bowl ring and his impressive season, which included just five interceptions and the league's fifth-best passer rating.

But that's not going to happen.

At every single one of those four sessions next week, including Tuesday's Media Day zoo at Cowboys Stadium, Roethlisberger is going to be asked about what happened last March in Milledgeville, Ga., when he was accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old college student in the bathroom of a bar.

And he's going to be asked about the four-game suspension he served at the beginning of the season for violating the league's personal-conduct policy after the league did its own investigation of the incident after law enforcement declined to prosecute.

It would be nice if Roethlisberger took the same approach as Michael Vick and opened up about the mistakes he's made and how he has changed and matured. But that's not likely to happen.

Roethlisberger said his mea culpas in late July after reporting to training camp. He admitted then to letting his family down. Admitted that he "made a lot of mistakes.'' Hoped that people would "forgive me and give me another chance.''

Since then, though, he has shown little interest in rehashing the past.

Often difficult when dealing with the media in the past, he's been much more accessible and cooperative this season. A new Ben. But he has pretty much said all he intends to say about the old Ben.

"The great thing is, that was so long ago, I forgot all about it,'' Roethlisberger said last week during a conference call with reporters prior to the Steelers' 24-19 win over the Jets in the AFC Championship Game. "Right now, it's not about living in the past for me. It's about living in the here and now.''

When somebody asked him after the game whether he looks back much at last offseason, he cut the questioner short and said, "I don't. I'll stop you now. I don't. Not at all.''

That's doubtful. In the aftermath of last Sunday's win over the Jets, an NFL Films camera caught Roethlisberger standing alone alongside the platform where Steelers president Art Rooney II was being presented with the AFC championship trophy. Tears were flowing from his eyes.

Those looked like the tears of a man who realized how perilously close he had come to screwing up his life and his career. But he's not going to admit that.

At least not next week.

"Now's not the time for me to reflect,'' he told reporters this week. "Now is the time for me to focus on a really, really big game.''

Asante miffed at All-Pro snub

If you're a Twitter follower of Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel, then you know he was none too happy that he wasn't selected to the Associated Press' All-Pro team earlier this week.

"I didn't make 1st team All Pro. Wow! Crazy,'' he said in one tweet.

"I don't only stop my guy from catching the ball, I intercept it! Crazy,'' he said in another.

"Even when the ball is not being thrown my way, I still find a way to MAKE A PLAY,'' he said in yet another.

The AP All-Pro team is selected by a panel of 50 sports writers, including myself. The Raiders' Nnamdi Asomugha and the Jets' Darrelle Revis were the two first-team corners with 20 and 19 votes, respectively. The Packers' Charles Woodson and Patriots rookie Devin McCourty were the second-team selections with 17 and 14 votes. Samuel came in fifth with 12 votes.

Samuel has made it crystal clear that he feels there should be just one yardstick for measuring the worth of a cornerback - interceptions. He finished tied with McCourty for the most interceptions by a cornerback this season with seven. Therefore, in his mind, he should be All-Pro.

Neither Asomugha nor Revis had a single pick. But they allowed the fewest completions in the league. Asomugha allowed just 13 completions in 33 attempts in his direction, and Revis gave up 19 in 56. Samuel was third, allowing 20 in 45.

Each voter selected two cornerbacks. My choices were Asomugha and Revis. So I wasn't surprised he didn't make the first team. But I was surprised he didn't get a second-team nod.

Woodson, 34, isn't nearly as good at man coverage as he was earlier in his career. He allowed 40 completions in 75 attempts, including four touchdowns. He had just two interceptions. But - and this is a big but - he had two sacks, five forced fumbles and 92 tackles. Samuel had no sacks, no forced fumbles and was in on just 26 tackles.

McCourty had as many interceptions as Samuel, as well as two forced fumbles, one sack and 82 tackles. But he gave up 55 completions in 101 attempts his way, including six for touchdowns. If Samuel has a gripe, it's with McCourty's selection.

Around the league

* While we're on the topic of openings on Andy Reid's coaching staff, I love ex-Eagle and WYSP pre- and postgame analyst Kevin Riley's suggestion for the team's next linebackers coach: John Bunting. Bunting, who played on the Eagles' 1980 Super Bowl team as well as the USFL Stars, was an NFL coach with the Saints, Rams and Chiefs before becoming the head coach at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina. He was fired 3 years ago. Bunting is an outstanding teacher.

* Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians outsmarted Jets coach Rex Ryan on that third-and-6 call right after the 2-minute warning Sunday in the AFC title game. Ryan was miked by NFL Films for the game. During the timeout before the play, Ryan told linebacker David Harris to look for a run play. "No way in hell they're going to throw it,'' he told Harris. "If [Ben Roethlisberger] keeps the ball, look for him to run with it.'' Roethlisberger ran out of the pocket to the right, then, much to Ryan's surprise, completed a game-clinching, 14-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Antonio Brown.

* If NFL Films founder Ed Sabol doesn't get voted into the Hall of Fame a week from Saturday, I'm going to be extremely disappointed in my fellow 43 selectors. The 94-year-old Sabol, who is one of 15 modern-era finalists, should be every bit a shoo-in as Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk. The NFL wouldn't be the monolith it is without Sabol and Films. There's not a lot I agree with Redskins general manager Bruce Allen on, but he hit it right on the nail when he said, "You may be able to write the history of the NFL without Ed Sabol, but you couldn't see it."

From the lip

* "Honestly, I don't give a damn if they get mad at me or not. It's getting to the point where it's getting ridiculous when everything is always dealing with money. You're basically dealing with people's livelihoods. You're dealing with hundreds of thousands of other people in this workplace from the venues to everyone else. To me, you need to stop bitching about it. If you want to say that you want to get into a room and meet, then do it. Don't just talk about it.'' - Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, on his criticism of both the players union and the owners for the stalled bargaining talks

* "When you have a 7-year veteran in the National Football League, you've won a Super Bowl, you've been the MVP of a Super Bowl . . . I think he's going to put the onus on himself, and that's where the onus is. It's on him. He needs to take care of the ball better and he knows it.'' - Giants general manager Jerry Reese, on quarterback Eli Manning, who had a career-high 25 interceptions this season

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