Cheers or jeers for Roethlisberger's return?

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Cheers or jeers for Roethlisberger's return?

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

Read this quote:

"Ben Roethlisberger hopes he gets a warm reception in his first game back this year in Heinz Field. Many Steelers fans were upset with Roethlisberger's off-field conduct and subsequent suspension. But the city of Pittsburgh is feeling good about its football team, and even more optimistic now that Roethlisberger is returning."

Did you laugh? I did.
The story isn't a bad one. Roethlisberger's return is important news in the NFL this week and should be written about in more than a few ways. This one just happened to make me snort a little. The moment of moral championing from fans is mentioned so fleetingly it's funny.

"Tsk, tsk. Bad, Ben! Now, ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?!"

I've said before that the personal and professional lives of athletes must be kept in different brain boxes if fans are to keep their sanity. Roethlisberger is a perfect example of why.

If you want to appreciate him then you have to keep your eyes trained on his on-field stats. When you wander over to where the mugshots and court appointments are, well, that's when you start feeling funny about pulling that number 7 t-shirt out of your closet for game day.

Easier said than done? Maybe not.

His first regular-season jog out onto Heinz Field will be an interesting moment for Steelers fans. Will they cheer the quarterback of their professional football team? Or will they boo the man who abused the privilege of wearing black and gold? Multiple times.

Big Ben might be smarter than we think to anticipate cheers not jeers.

Pittsburgh is 3-1 but ranks dead last in NFL passing stats. Fans want the best QB their team can have out on that gridiron, and for the Steelers that's Roethlisberger. Bottom line: They want to win. You know why that matters more? Because the connection they feel is to football.

They don't know the women who accused Roethlisberger of sexual assault. They do know that he beat all the charges he faced. And that motorcycle incident from forever ago? Who doesn't like motorcycles? Bikes are badass! How can you blame the guy?

Some will. But when it's game day in Steelers Country, most won't. Roethlisberger is banking on it.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want.