The New York Review of Magazines

Ben Behaving Badly

By Frederick Dreier

Kudos to Sports Illustrated for its six-page cover story on the grotesque behavior of Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. For those just entering the Roethlisberger conversation, the QB has been benched for six games of the 2010 season by the NFL for “violating the league’s personal conduct policy” for allegedly raping a 20-year-old woman in Georgia, and then covering up the investigation.

SI’s team of four reporters (including J school grad David Epstein) wove together stories from Pittsburgh, Milledgeville, GA (where the alleged rape took place), Roethlisberger’s hometown in Ohio and Lake Tahoe about the quarterback’s bad conduct. What emerged was the supreme image of athlete entitlement, a picture of a man whose gratuitous flaunting of fame (he dropped the “Do you know who I am?” line… often) is, simply put, gag-worthy.

According to reports, Roethlisberger was no friend of the food service industry, and walked out on tabs, sexually harassed waitresses and even had some poor Tahoe waiter fired for asking a female companion to see her ID. According to the SI story, Roethlisberger’s actions against women were even worse. In 2008, Roethlisberger called a hotel employee into his room to fix a television (it wasn’t broken), and proceeded to grope and rape her.

The story is a major win for SI, whose weekly magazine looks thinner each week, except, of course, for the annual Swimsuit Issue. *

* The author of this column obviously recognizes the irony in Sports Illustrated writing a condemning story on an athlete’s objectification of women, given the aforementioned fact.

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