Pittsburg Fans Turn on Ben Roethlisberger

He's been called a jerk, a louse and words that just aren't printable on this site.

Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may have escaped criminal charges in the sex assault scandal stemming from a night of drinking in a Georgia bar, but in the court of public opinion, many have already convicted him.

"Everybody has an opinion," said Marcia Feinberg, owner of the Mike Feinberg Company, a novelty store in Pittsburgh that sells Steelers merchandise. "I've never had anyone defend him."

"They all agree he needed some kind of punishment," she said.

Roethlisberger, who brought two Super Bowl championships to Pittsburgh, was once untouchable in the football crazed city. Instead, he is now the subject of rampant trade rumors

A Georgia district attorney announced earlier this month that he did not have enough evidence to prove that Roethlisberger raped a 20-year-old in the bathroom of a Milledgeville, Ga., club after plying her and other underage women with shots of alcohol.

Shortly after the investigation was dropped, police released a report stating that another woman confirmed to officers that Roethlisberger twice accosted her, but she didn't want to press charges. He also faces civil charges from a Nevada hotel employe who accused him of sexual assault.

The NFL suspended him for six games and ordered him to undergo a psychological evaluation.

Feinberg's store stocks Steelers' products, but they marked down framed pictures of the quarterback after his scandal broke from $30 to $10. They've sold only one since.

While sports apparel giant Nike is standing by "Big Ben" Roethlisberger, PLB Sports, the Pittsburgh-based maker of Big Ben Beef Jerky announced last week it was ending its contract the quarterback. Company owner Ty Ballous said the questions about Roethlisberger's character were key in making the decision.

"They're all disappointed. It's kind of tarnished the name," Feinberg said of the rabid Steelers' fans that live in her city.

Online Anger at Big Ben Roethlisberger

Online, criticism for Roethlisberger isn't as couched.

The Facebook page "Not being raped by Ben Roethlisberger" is "liked" by nearly 52,000 users, which pales in comparison to the nearly 41,400 users who "like" his athlete page.

Emily Best, a 26-year-old University of Pittsburgh alum who comes from a long line of die-hard Steelers' fans, told ABCNews.com that she sent her Roethlisberger jersey back to team owner Art Rooney II today.

She has set up a Facebook page urging others to do the same. It has more than 530 members so far.

"I think people are angry at him because he's making us look bad," Best said.

"I think people are just seeing that his image is tarnished and in tarnishing his image it hurts the Steelers and it hurts Pittsburgh," she said. " We are a very proud people and we don't want our image to be tarnished" because of his immature behavior.

Roethlisberger isn't the first sports super star to become caught up in off-field antics, but the ire for him seems to have peaked even over that of sports previous bad boy of the year Tiger Woods.

"It sounds like he [Tiger] went out and found women who were willing," Best said. "And that's a different story from what we're hearing Ben has been doing."

Feinberg said she also noticed that Woods got more of a free pass than Roethlisberger is getting.

"What he [Tiger] was doing and who he was doing it with, they weren't underage," Feinberg said.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...