Comparisons about their style of play, their size, their skill sets, and unfortunately there is a new comparison to drawn between the two players: their off the field issues.
Thursday afternoon it was announced that Jameis Winston will not be charged for rape or sexual assault in a case that dates back to December 2012. Whether this situation is over or not is not the issue. The issue is that this young, budding superstar can learn a lot from the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Roethlisberger.
The lesson learned from Roethlisberger has nothing to do with football but has everything to do with actions off of the field. Think back to Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie season when he set a record that might never be broken by winning 14 consecutive starts as a rookie. The sky was the limit for the Steelers’ signal caller. Endorsement deals were rolling in from Campbell’s Chunky Soup to Nike football commercials.
Then started the off the field drama. It started when Ben Roethlisberger went against advice from his coach and others to not ride a motorcycle. That eventually led to a motorcycle accident that jeopardized his life and his career.
A few short years later, after winning his second Super Bowl, the motorcycle accident seemed to be child’s play. Roethlisberger was then accused of sexually assaulting an employee at a Nevada resort while playing in a celebrity golf tournament. Details were fuzzy regarding the situation, but the underlying theme was the woman was out for money and would do whatever necessary to get it. The case was settled out of court.
When all was said and done, the Steelers fan base and the organization gave Roethlisberger a pass.
Then came the Milledgeville, Georgia assault. Roethlisberger was directly connected to an assault of a college student in the bathroom of a night club. This situation wasn’t as fuzzy and the details pointed directly to Roethlisberger’s guilt. However, the evidence didn’t stack up and Roethlisberger was again off the hook.
This time, the free pass was not given. Trade rumors swirled, endorsement deals were lost, and the starting quarterback was scrambling to repair his image.
A lot has changed with Roethlisberger since 2010. He has gotten married, has a child and another on the way. His image has been resurrected but will always be tarnished.
This is where Jameis Winston can learn from Roethlisberger. According the state, Winston was wrongly accused of this crime. Therefore, it is time for him to realize the error of his ways and prevent it from happening again.
Roethlisberger had an ego that didn’t seem to care what happened in Nevada or Georgia. Winston can’t let that happen to him. The media, the public perception, and NFL franchises will give people a free pass. They did so for Roethlisberger and they will for Winston.
However, that pass is a one time only pass.
Jameis Winston was given an outstanding opportunity on Thursday. With the news that he will not be charged with any crime he will be able to lead the Florida State Seminoles into the ACC title game with hopes of taking the team back to the BCS National Title game for the first time since 1999. He will be the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy and will make himself a lot of money in the NFL if he chooses.
However, just as the world saw what happened to Ben Roethlisberger, Winston needs to learn from that and certainly needs to clean up his act off the field.
As the saying goes: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz