I nearly spit out my coffee this morning when I read this article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, questioning whether Ben Roethlisberger’s recent asinine behavior could have stemmed from too many knocks to the head.
People who suffer repeated head injuries often exhibit signs of aggression, childishness, impaired self-control, inappropriate sexual activity and alcohol abuse, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“Ben Roethlisberger is a guy with a lot of concussions,” said famed forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht. “It would be a very wise decision, a very appropriate one, for the NFL to test him for damage related to them. That’s being very fair to Ben.”
The article goes on to say a formal clinical evaluation is standard in the NFL for any player arrested, charged or otherwise appearing to engage in mischief, but the medical results won’t be released to the public.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ordered Roethlisberger, 28, to undergo a battery of medical tests as part of a conditional punishment plan that could bench him for up to six games and cost him about $2.8 million. Big Ben was accused of sexually assaulting a college student earlier this year in a nightclub bathroom, but was never charged, and faces a lawsuit from another woman who claims he assaulted her in 2008.
“It’s conceivable to think that there is a possibility that those concussions have led to some behavioral issues,” Wecht said. “The question I pose is simple: Can someone with several chronic or repetitive head injuries later display behavior that is socially undesirable? It’s certainly possible, but we won’t know that unless there is a proper evaluation, then work-up and treatment plan.”
Yes, Roethlisberger has taken his fair share of big hits during his six-year NFL career — 242 sacks to be exact. He’s suffered at least four serious head traumas — three on the field and one from a near fatal 2006 motorcycle accident in which he wasn’t wearing a helmet.
But to suggest that past brain trauma may be to blame for his boorish, immature behavior in recent years is not only ridiculous, but plain wrong.
Big Ben certainly has problems, but they don’t stem from any kind of medical jibber jabber. Countless other NFL players have taken even more — and bigger — hits than Roethlisberger. Yet you don’t see them out making irresponsible and potentially criminal decisions on a regular basis. Well, at least not ALL of them.
I’m sure it takes a lot to stay on the straight and narrow as a professional athlete, but plenty of them do it. The ones who don’t have only themselves to blame.