Joe Starkey's had enough of people writing about Ben Roethlisberger. So he wrote an article about it.
Enough with the Ben Roethlisberger stories.
Spoiler alert: the rest of this column is going to have nothing to do with a certain disgraced QB.
Every time I turn around, somebody's telling me about the day Ben supposedly did this or the night Ben supposedly did that.
I was lying about that spoiler.
It has become as irritating as the redhead's never-ending tales in "American Pie."
"This one time, at Ben camp ..."
Since March 11th, Joe Starkey, the Trib's hockey columnist, has written four "Ben Camp" articles. John Harris, the football-ish columnist has popped out five.
It's a classic example of "heard" behavior -- as in, "I heard Ben yelled at a Giant Eagle checkout clerk five years ago." Piggybacking on legitimate accounts of Roethlisberger's boorish behavior, people are liable to tell you anything.
This in itself doesn't make Joe Starkey a hack. The fact that he piles on, both sarcastically, and then with about 150 more words in earnest -- that's what makes Joe Starkey a hack. Here comes the sarcasm.
Ben triggered the stock-market meltdown.
Ben caused the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Ben played goal for the Penguins in Game 7.
You're right! Talk about sports. The NFL draft. The NHL playoffs. The Pirates shockingly decent level of sub-.500 play.
How about we let the recent Sports Illustrated cover piece serve as the last Big Ben expose we see for a while? It contained enough anecdotes to last at least through the bye week.
JOE STARKEY: Time to write an article.
JOE STARKEY'S BRAIN: Too hard.
JOE STARKEY: Then can we slam someone else for writing an article?
JOE STARKEY'S BRAIN: Only if we can simultaneously plug it as a good read.
JOE STARKEY: Now that's gournalism!
(I'm guessing the cover shot -- a scruffy Roethlisberger pictured under the headline "The Hangover" -- won't be framed for Big Ben's man cave anytime soon.)
(Irrelevant cheap shot in parenthesis heyo!)
The story filled in the rest of the country on what a lot of us already knew:
And chose, quite deliberately not to report. We are only gournalists, after all.
Roethlisberger often has behaved like an arrogant jerk during his six years as Steelers quarterback. That doesn't mean he committed any crimes. It just means he turned off a significant portion of the locker room and fan base, despite his mostly brilliant play.
"Enough about Santonio Holmes!" is what he meant to title this article, but you know how editors always screw shit up.
Imagine if he were coming off a poor season.
Like in 2006? Where were all the "Ben's a piggishly bad teammate" think pieces back then?
Here's my well reasoned guess: You're a schmuck among schmucks who doesn't actually have the chops to get a good scoop, nor the balls to publish one if you do. In fact, the only time your ilk comes out of the woodwork is when we're in the dead horse phase.
And here we are.
I think it's a good thing Roethlisberger was exposed (resist punch line)
Couldn't actually figure out how to work one in.
over the past few months. If he isn't jarred into some form of humility by such a massive backlash -- on the heels of a second sexual assault allegation within a year -- then nothing will work.
ENOUGH ABOUT SANTONIO!
What's amazing is that it took so long for stories of his ill-mannered ways to reach print.
Oh man, it's almost like no one was doing their job, right?
I never broached the matter, because I did not have on-the-record sources.
But, I am willing to cite this huge dickbag who probably didn't have the sources either. Stay tuned.
A few weeks ago, I looked to see whether anything had been written on the topic from Roethlisberger's early years. I finally came across a piece in the Pittsburgh City Paper, for which local radio host Mark Madden deserves immense credit.
For you kids out there: referencing Mark Madden in an academic paper is grounds for dismissal from most institutions of higher learning.
Madden, it seems, was the first media person to suggest Roethlisberger might not be the humble guy he seemed to be.
Citing Mark Madden basically says you tried looking, but couldn't find the right Kid Rock lyrics for the occasion.
In a column titled "Is Ben getting too big for his britches?" that was published late in Roethlisberger's rookie year, Madden wrote of how "tales flow freely about Roethlisberger's ego growing proportionately to his accomplishments."
Again, this is the same Joe Starkey that was afraid to print shit without it being verified by legit sources.
What sorts of tales?
Wrote Madden: "Roethlisberger snubbed the Pirates' Jason Bay, pointedly ignoring (Bay) when he came to Steelers headquarters for a Pirates-requested photo op. Chukky Okobi openly accused Roethlisberger, once a close friend, of 'big-timing' him since becoming a star. Roethlisberger berated a Steelers PR type for allowing a TV interview to run over the agreed-upon five minutes. Jerome Bettis told a reporter that the Steelers 'have some young guys who don't know what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler.' His eyes were fixed on Roethlisberger. All of these incidents were witnessed. None are mere rumor."
Yeah, you can't have a rumor about a dude fixing his eyes on someone. That shit DEMANDS witnesses.
Then came a warning:
Was it "don't be a fuck or else you'll get fired!"? Couldn't have been.
"Maybe you can't blame the kid for having a swelled cranium," Madden wrote. "He's just 22, and he's having perhaps the best season of any rookie in any sport ever. But it's the sort of thing the Steelers need to keep in check while it can still be controlled."
KILL TED KENNEDY!
Whoops. That check bounced.
JOE STARKEY: Check.
JOE STARKEY'S BRAIN: I get it.
Five years later, credible sources are going on the record to speak of Roethlisberger's chronically appalling behavior.
Okay, so they weren't credible five years ago. You don't like using non-credible sources. But you just used a source from five years ago that wasn't credible?
That's quibble number one.
Quibble number two:
Just because people are piling on now doesn't mean they're at all credible.
Mark Baranowski, owner of The Cabana Bar in Wexford, spoke to SI, then appeared on my radio show on 93.7 "The Fan."
Not credible unless they appear on Joe Starkey's drive-time show.
"I know a lot of people in Pittsburgh, and (Roethlisberger) just treats everybody like crap," Baranowski said. "He doesn't respect anybody. Ben just feels like the city of Pittsburgh owes him, whether he goes to a golf course, a bar, a restaurant, a charity basketball game. I mean, it's story after story after story."
As I've always said, you can't spell "CREDIBILITY" without "BARANOWSKI."
Fair enough, Mark -- and kudos for having the courage to say as much in a town where folks take their football very seriously.
Why are you backing off from Mark fucking Baranowski?? All he did was come on your radio show and diss a dude with unverifiable information that doesn't shed any new light on the subject. HE is YOU. Don't leave him out to dry!
But enough with the stories for now.
You backed off.
Let's see if Roethlisberger can write a new one.
And then you hinted at the think-piece that could have been.