Ben Roethlisberger played on a gimpy ankle in Pittsburgh's Week 15 clash against the San Francisco 49ers, and he did not play particularly well. He hobbled his way to a three-interception, two-fumble performance in a game that the Steelers lost 20-3. That Roethlisberger should have sat out was a widely held opinion among Steelers fans at the time.
Hindsight being what it is, that opinion looks more valid now than ever. The Steelers were thumped anyway, and Ben Roethlisberger also says that the 49ers attempted to further injure his gimpy ankle.
Dan Patrick asked Large Benjamin on Wednesday if he felt like any team ever went after him with an attempt to injure a certain part of his body. Via Matt Maiocco at CSNBayArea.com:
"Um, wow, that's tough," Roethlisberger said. "I don't really complain about that stuff, either. But I think when we played San Fran, I felt like there were some things going on, some extra . . . Now, obviously, I did have the ankle and I was playing, so there was kind of a bull's-eye on there anyway. But for the most part, guys play tough and you go into a game expecting it. I expect to be tougher than them."
I know everyone's (rightfully) super sensitive in the wake of the Saints bounty scandal, but what exactly is the problem here? That one NFL player knew of another player's injury and then used that information to try and injure him further, to the detriment of the opposing team and the aid of his own? Then I guess we better formally investigate every football game ever played.
This one's just part of the game ‒ part of sports, in fact. Tune into any NHL playoff game for another example. And to be clear, Roethlisberger didn't accuse anyone of doing anything dirty. He simply answered a question, matter-of-factly. And if it's true, and the 49ers did target his ankle, it doesn't make them a dirty team. It just makes them a football team.
As for how something like this compares to what the Saints did ‒ coaches actually offering players money to injure opposing players ‒ that's up to you. Obviously, there's a difference between just doing it and someone offering money to have something done, but when the whistle blows and the trainers are trying to figure out how to put a person back together, does it really matter if there was money behind the injury or not?
Also, there's this: It might not have happened at all. Mike Sando, who covers the NFC West at ESPN.com, went back and watched every Steelers offensive play of that game and saw no unnecessary hits to Roethlisberger or his ankle.
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