Yo, check it. Response
to Smizik's Ben whining.
Ok, Ok, OK... Enough of this BS.
Is "Big Ben" a piece of doo-doo as a person? From what I've heard, yes, but I don't know the man, so if I met him, I'd give him the benefit of the doubt I would with anyone else. Except I'd be a bit skeptical.
But enough is enough. Let's deal with some things that have been hung out there in terms of branding, and other behavior.
"Big Ben Has damaged the Steelers Brand."
What? Did he blow up 5000 seats at Heinze Field? You mean the Yinzers won't show up to get drunk at 6 AM before the 4PM (or 8 PM) games to be idiots, or in the words of Bill Cowher, "In Full voice?"
The Steeler Nation has done enough to damage to their brand nationally without anyone who actually plays the game needing to contribute. Actually, this helps sell seats. The Nation will still travel, and the locals will show up to boo.
Did Ben cut 10,000 names off the waiting list for season tickets? No. Even if he had, there's 10k behind them to fill the void, and 5k behind them to ensure sellouts for the next 10 years after that.
Damage to the brand? They've sold out since 1973 and are consistently in the top five in merch sold. Heck, the Pirates have been losers for 17 years and Snoop Dogg and all sorts of rappers still wear their swag.
While I rarely agree with my Evil Twin, Mark, the hypocracy of the Steeler Nation is unbelievable - the loudest shouters against anyone on the team immediatly shut up once they start winning. (See: WWF Chair incident, Steelers Locker Room, 2003...) If the Steelers go on a deep run in the playoffs this year, this incident will just fall by the wayside.
Damaging the brand? My buttocks! If you can't be good, stayin the news by being colorful, or infamous.... There's no such thing as bad publicity.
Then we can talk about the NFL Conduct Policy damaging the NFL Brand. It's a brilliant marketing move to keep the NFL in the news between the Superbowl and the start of Training Camps. MLB should find a way to make the Fall and Latin Leauges so relevant to the general public.
See above, insert murdurers, rapists, domestic violence, the White House (Cowboys White House, that is - America's team after all,) steriods, etc. Everytime something happens we hear about "Damage to the NFL brand!"
And every time the TV contract doubles. Why?
Because we want to watch the spectacle. Frankly, WE WANT GOOD VS EVIL and WE WANT TO BE THEM! They're young. They're rich. They live a life most people envy. They're gladiators. Heck, one of the things we always hear about college football is "We love the pomp and circumstance."
In the Roman days we'd be throwing slave girls at them, along with the best food and the best training we could get for them because we paid a lot of money for them and we owned them and needed to keep them happy.
Is that really any different, today? Except for the girls throw themselves at the players sometimes? (Yes, I know, I'm painting with broad strokes here.)
We build our stadiums to resemble the Colessium, which is just the start, or does anyone think that the nutritionists, the team meals, and frankly, other things aren't the equivalent? And don't the fans think they own the players?
Certainly, little Johnny wants a Big Ben #7 jersey. But Big Ben (Pac Man, Plaxico, Vick, etc) are now the Bad Guys. Instead of saying, "You know what, Johnny, you need some real role models, and you can't watch Sports Center anymore" we say, "How about if we get you a Polamoulou Jersey instead?" Or worse yet, "Hey, we'll get you a Tim Tebow Jersey because he 'Plays for Jesus'." (Just like Big Ben 4 years ago.) Good lord help Tebow if he gets caught with a bimbo.
Then when Tebow flops, we call him a "failure" and villify him for what's wrong with the team. Or, we start rumors that he's gay and has been caught AHEMing in a local park.
Let's face it, folks, the NFL is the WWF. You have heels and baby faces. Damaging the brand? We REVEL in the brand because it's a bunch of rock stars doing things we wish we could do. We haven't had a real rock star to worship since Tommy Lee did that really bad "reality show" where he went to college right after "The Ozbournes" showed that the Prince Of F'In Darkness was all warm and fuzzy.
Faces and Heels switch places every week. Why? We're Al Bundy and we scored four touchdowns for Polk High and now sell shoes. Or worse yet, we never scored four touchdowns in a game for Polk High and the cheerleader never looked at us once. And we STILL sell shoes.
Tony Romo is a heel because he went to Mexico and had sex with Jessica Simpson, then lost a playoff game. Somehow, the fact that Tom Brady has a kid with Bridgette Monyhann and another one with Gisel Bunchsen doesn't make him a heel (maybe because they're both gorgeuse and men want to be him?) But he's becoming a heel becasue he's committed the mortal sin - he hasn't won in a couple of years...
Ochosinco or TO are heels when they pull their little stunts, but with a little rehab (particularly on "Dancing with the Stars") Ococinco is now a Babyface? It's ridiculous.
If you listen to the touts on the NFL network, they sound like Good Ol' JR talking about "These great young champions in this great sport of ours..." Never mind the fact these "champions" haven't played in the playoffs, or haven't even been drafted yet.
The NFL Network and ESPN (i.e. the Brand) feed us the talking points, just like the old WWF shows between the shows. BTW, if you remember about 8 years back, the WWF started calling itself, "The Brand." See a parallell?
Who are the hypocrites here?
Just jumping across sports for a minute - people who want to put NHL players up on the pedestal, well, you forget something.
In 1995 or 1996, Mario Lemuiex was a person of interest in a rape case, where a young woman implicated him in an incident that happened in his hotel room. I believe it was in Toronto. While it was 15 years ago, let's not pretend it never happened.
Apparently, he had loaned his room out to one of the players on the team,but there was a question if he was in the suite when the incident happened - there was a questionable encounter between the player and the young lady. The situation was almost identical to what happened with Rothlesberger and this case, along with the one in LV. In addition to that, Tom Barasso and Kevin Stevens were investigated for making "Terroristic Threats" in a bar in the same year.
People are people. We all have put ourselves in situations where bad things can happen. We just want to pretend we haven't.
The case didn't damage the Penguins' brand at all - they still sold out most of their games and went on a deep run into the playoffs.
At the time, Mario was considered a piece of doo-doo because his behavior in public was the same as Big Ben's is when he went out.
If you go back and read the stuff about Mario before the Consolidated Energy Center was a guarantee, he was just a carpetbagger who wanted his money. And don't get me started on the whole "The Rooneys are Cheap" deal, which was the criticism from '83 through 2006 when they won another Superbowl...
Today, Mario is the Patron Saint of Pittsburgh Sports and the Rooney Family are the Priests of All that is Right About Sports. Before them, it was Eddie DeBartollo, who ended up going to jail...
Did any of that damage the Brand?
What damages a brand is what damaged the Penguins brand and is what is damaging the Pirates brand now, along with the Bills, the Jaguars and the Raiders - they are or were loosers.
Let's get off our high horse and live by the words of Charles Barkley, shall we "The players are not role models." It's entertainment. And we love it.