And they've been able to win with that philosophy. Raiders owner, Al Davis, made amorality famous with his "Just win, baby!" motto. But look where that's got him. The Raiders haven't won a Super Bowl since the Marcus Allen era, and they've been utterly abysmal since losing to Tampa Bay in the Big Game back in '03. The Cincinnati
But it's not as though morality wins ball games. This high moral road the Rooneys have taken hasn't always resulted in Super Bowl victories--just more than any other team. The Steelers have spent a lot of time in my lifetime sucking (remember the end of the Noll years?). But when they have, we fans have always been allowed to feel a little smug in our frustration.
We've been able to deride Ray "Murder" Lewis. We scoffed at the Jimmy Johnson Cowboys and all their legal troubles. All those thugs and villains, drug dealers and drug fiends weren't in Steeler uniforms. And I admit, it felt a bit nice being so smug, so morally superior. The Rooneys seemed so serious about this stance, I don't think I'm the only Steelers fan who started adopting it as their own.
Of course, that all changed this summer when our franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, racked up his second sexual assault accusation in as many years. My first reaction (and I doubt that I'm alone in this) was that I wanted him out. The first accusation seemed pretty sketchy, but twice ...? You had to figure that the man had to be guilty of something--something incredibly heinous. And who wants to spend an entire football season cheering for a rapist--even a two-time Super Bowl champion rapist?
Well ... I do.
My slide into moral relativism was a surprisingly quick one. I am relatively forgiving of the young rookies acting like fools. I mean, I acted like a fool at their age, and I didn't have a million-dollar contract, groupies, and people scrambling around trying to fulfill my every desire. Who wouldn't get into trouble in that situation?
Ben was a different story, though. Accused once already, what in the world was a 28-year-old man doing hanging out with some 20-year-old girl/women in a friggin' college bar?! Yeah, I was pretty hard on Ben. I was screaming for his head, a trade, something.
But the trade never happened, and suddenly I started making my Morality Slide. I still thought "Rapelisberger" was guilty of something, but I had to reconcile myself to the fact that Ben was going to be the QB after his four-game suspension. At first, I doubted that I could do it. Then, my fantasy football league draft happened just before the season started.
I'd already drafted Peyton Manning (I hate the guy, but he slid all the way to the second round--what was a brother to do?). I needed a back-up. It was late in the draft. I was looking at Jay Cutler, Alex Smith, or Josh Freeman. Then I noticed Ben was still available. I checked to see that Manning didn't have a bye during Ben's suspension, saw that he didn't, and pulled the trigger on the Big 'Un.
Then, the Steelers had the nerve to go 3-1 without Roethlisberger. And suddenly, I'm thinking, if they can do that well without their starting quarterback, just imagine what they can do when he returns. Suddenly, I'm thinking of a third Lombardi trophy in the Ben Era. And his dismantling the lowly Browns today has not dissuaded me from having Super Bowl delusions.
So yeah, I've turned. I've gone full circle. You won't see me, Mrs. Thrope, or Poohbutt with a Roethlisberger jersey. And I'm never going to treat this guy as a returning, "redeemed" hero who has learned his lesson. The premature praise has already started. But I won't be joining it. I won't be joining the Justification Jamboree either--where everybody conveniently "forgets" that the man's conduct is more than a bit sketchy or where they start blaming his accusers/victims. No, I'll cheer wholeheartedly in my hypocrisy. I like it when the Steelers win the Super Bowl. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy. I'll just make crude and crass jokes about Ben while he's taking us, once again, to the Promised Land. After all, Al Davis once said it best: