While the sports world has squandered the last 72 hours questioning the manhood of Jay Cutler, two more relevant NFL quarterbacks are about to share a chance at personal and professional redemption. Their names are Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger.
In Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was pulled from the game with what turned out to be a strained MCL. If any quarterback in the league could currently stand some redemption, it’d be Cutler, whose game has been questioned since draft day. Cutler’s chance will have to wait, however, as both Roethlisberger, who missed the first quarter of the season for conduct detrimental, and Rodgers, who spent the first part of his career as the gunslinger’s understudy, now stand one win away from immortality… and vindication.
It was only a few months ago that Ben Roethlisberger found himself in a sticky situation, a night club restroom where he was accused of sexually molesting a female. This was Ben’s second such accusation. Although he was ultimately acquitted of wrongdoing, the NFL still suspended him four games for his lack of judgment. The Steelers went 3-1 in his absence but could not have made it to the Super Bowl without him.
Rodgers doesn’t have anywhere near Big Ben’s sketchy background, yet a Super Bowl victory for him might be even more cleansing for having lived in the grizzled one’s shadow for so long. If you thought YOU were tired of hearing about Brett Favre, try wearing Rodgers’ cleats for a day. Imagine having your entire existence questioned based on your team’s decision to cut Green Bay’s most beloved son. Through it all, Rodgers never had a negative word to say. He is now one win away from exorcising those demons and ironically having as many championships as his predecessor: one.
There’s a long list of active quarterbacks who would sell their soul for a chance to be where Rodgers and Roethlisberger are standing, including Jay Cutler. Michael Vick had an MVP-like season and made many forget he was just doing hard time in Leavenworth. Donovan McNabb, who ended up benched in Washington, would love nothing more than another shot at a Super Bowl. Carson Palmer has spent his career mired in dysfunctional Cincinnati and has recently asked to be traded. These three, among others, would trade places with Roethlisberger and Rogers in an instant. But it is now Ben’s and Aaron’s time to shine. One need only watch the AFC and NFC Championship post-game press conferences to see their inextinguishable smiles and their tremendous burdens finally lifted off their shoulders, Rodgers for his discretion, Roethlisberger for his indiscretions.
One of them will go home victorious and cherish that smile for the rest of his life. The other will have to wait one more season for a chance that doesn’t come all too often.