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mesaSteeler
10-01-2010, 08:09 AM
Cook: Roethlisberger should take heed of Lewis' advice
Friday, October 01, 2010
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10274/1091715-87.stm

First, there was shock. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is best text pals with whom?

Then, there was outrage. Roethlisberger is exchanging love letters of sorts with Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis? During Steelers-Ravens week? That's horrible. Sacrilegious. Insulting to the great Steelers-Ravens rivalry, which is as intense as any in the NFL.

Next came reality. NFL players and coaches make up an exclusive fraternity. Many have the same agents and, in the case of Roethlisberger and Lewis, the same criminal defense attorney. Some train together during the offseason. A few even vacation together. Didn't we hear last week that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris enjoy going to Anguilla, St. Maarten and the Dominican Republic?

Finally, there is an appreciation for Roethlisberger's intelligence. Put yourself in his cleats for a moment. You are accused -- but not charged -- of rape. You are suspended for four games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for conduct unbecoming of a professional football player. Your image and reputation are beaten beyond recognition. Who better than Lewis to reach out to for advice on how to rebuild your career? OK, maybe Michael Vick. But guess what? I'm thinking Roethlisberger has exchanged texts with him, too. It's a shame Vick is so busy, accepting the NFC offensive player of the month award for September, dealing with the god-like adulation he's receiving in Philadelphia as that town's new savior at quarterback and trying to get ready for what figures to be an emotional home game for the Eagles when they play Donovan McNabb and the Washington Redskins Sunday. I'd love to ask Vick what advice he had for Big Ben.

Lewis certainly had plenty. We wouldn't have known about their communications if Lewis hadn't told the Pittsburgh media this week that he and Roethlisberger have texted each other often since Roethlisberger "was going through what he was going through" in March when Roethlisberger was accused of rape in a Milledgeville, Ga., college bar. "I told him I was there for him," Lewis said, adding that they exchanged messages as recently as Tuesday night, only five days before the Steelers and Ravens play Sunday at Heinz Field, the Steelers' final game before Roethlisberger's suspension ends.

"All you can do is move on," Lewis said of his advice to Roethlisberger. "Don't let nobody pull you back into it. Don't let nobody make you keep talking about it. Once it's done, it's done."

That strategy has worked pretty well for Lewis, who was charged with double murder after Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta in 2000. The murder charge was dropped when Lewis agreed to testify against two co-defendants, who later were acquitted. Lewis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice. His defense attorney was Edward T.M. Garland, who, 10 years later, would represent Roethlisberger in Milledgeville.

Today, Lewis is a hero in Baltimore. One of the great middle linebackers in NFL history, he's the face of the Ravens. One prominent fragrance company thinks enough of that face that it made Lewis its national spokesman for its body wash product.

Imagine that.

Only in Baltimore.

Well, not exactly.

It has happened in Philadelphia, too.

Vick was a national pariah after serving 18 months of a 23-month sentence in federal prison for his role as a leader of a cruel dogfighting ring. When the Eagles announced they were signing him to a one-year contract with an option year before the 2009 season, there were screams of anger and signs of protest.

"HIDE YOUR BEAGLE, VICK'S AN EAGLE!"

But Vick has been a good citizen in Philadelphia. He played sparingly last season behind longtime starter McNabb, who was traded to the Redskins in a controversial deal in April. Vick began this season as Kevin Kolb's backup and took over in the opening game against the Green Bay Packers when Kolb was injured. He played well the next week against the Detroit Lions and was named the starter by coach Andy Reid last week before he played great again against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday. Vick has become the story of the early NFL season. The fans and headlines are much kinder to him these days in Philadelphia, which is, supposedly, a tough sports town.

"TOP DOG!"

You think Roethlisberger won't be beloved again in Pittsburgh if he comes back from his suspension and plays well?

You are dead wrong.
Ron Cook: rcook@post-gazette.com. Ron Cook can be heard on the "Vinnie and Cook" show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan. More articles by this author
First published on October 1, 2010 at 12:00


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