Sun Jan 23 11:46pm EST
When it was over and the impact of the moment hit Ben Roethlisberger(notes), he took a knee and buried his head in his towel. Eight months ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback was at the center of a criminal investigation and his reputation was taking a beating in the local and national press. Now he's going back to the Super Bowl, his third appearance in the last six seasons.
When asked why he broke down, Roethlisberger said that he was overcome by "just how awesome it is."
From a football standpoint, he's right. With a win against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV, Roethlisberger would join the rarefied air of starting quarterbacks with three Super Bowl rings, joining Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman and Tom Brady(notes). He'll be a surefire Hall of Famer by the time he reaches his 29th birthday and get his name in the "best in the game" discussion that always seems to revolve around Brady and Peyton Manning(notes).
From a personal standpoint, he's also right. Roethlisberger has every reason to revel in how things have swung for him over the past few months. In March, he was under investigation. In April, he was suspended for six games to start the season. (It was later dropped to four.) In September, he watched his team get out to a 3-1 start without him. Why shouldn't he feel overwhelmed that he just went out and won the third AFC championship of his young career?
But I get the sense that some are going to try to turn this into a redemption story, as if Roethlisberger's continued on-field success has some relation to his off-field troubles. Bet on the fact that somebody will make the point that his making the Super Bowl is a sign that he's matured as a person. Don't fall into that trap. We're too quick to canonize someone because they win a game.
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