The trouble with sporting heroes is that while they may be paragons of athletic prowess, they aren't necessarily paragons of virtue. Which is a problem when it comes to setting them up as role models. Tiger Woods and Ashley Cole spring readily to mind.
However, it would also be true to say that professional sports people don't enter their chosen arena in order to open a paediatric wing, or lay down a legacy of selfless behaviour. So to judge their professionalism on anything other than their performances and results is often to miss their point.
Ben Roethlisberger is another who falls into this bracket of being a misunderstood anti-hero. Suspensions, unsavoury allegations, behavioural boot camps have all featured in his nine-year career at the Pittsburgh Steelers. But, at bottom, he has been portrayed as a team leader who doesn't care for his teammates off the field.
On the field, however, is where it counts. And in this domain, Big Ben has been looking after his boys ever since taking over as quarter-back. The youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl now stands within a Tiger Woods drive of eclipsing Terry Bradshaw's 29-year-old franchise record of 27,989 career passing yards - a mark most thought would never be passed. What a sporting legacy that would leave. So it would be churlish if he never charted amongst the elite because of a bad-boy perception.
Many fancy Roethlisberger to chalk up that landmark achievement in tonight's big game. After all, the Steelers are only visiting the Tennessee Titans, 1-4 so far this campaign, where they are strong six-point favourites. However, to my jaundiced eye, it looks like all Roethlisberger's lionheart heroics may finally catch up with him this year. His right arm still needs surgery if it is ever to return to mint condition, while his mighty frame keeps picking up knocks and scrapes - he injured his throwing paw again last week.
One more hit in the wrong place could see the bell toll for Big Ben, a possibility made all the more likely when you consider Pittsburgh's reliance on his outside-the-pocket improvisation. The Steelers top the league in third-down completions but such escapology (53%) cannot last forever with an ailing maverick at the controls.
Nor can their famed Steel Curtain still be relied upon to restrict opposing offenses. Last Sunday's match against Philly may have seen the long-awaited return of Troy Polamalu. But he only lasted about a quarter, hobbling off to the sidelines with an aggravated right calf. LaMarr Woodley also accompanied him to sick bay. Polamalu is out again this week, missing his third game, and is emblematic of the Steelers' struggles on defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Titans enjoy some better injury news. Key wide receiver, Kenny Britt, made all his plays in Tuesday practice and is listed as a probable starter. If Britt is back on song, order and balance will return to the Titans' offense. QB Matt Hasselbeck will finally have a reliable go-to guy, while the running avenues should clear for the feast-of-famine gains of Chris Johnson.
Johnson may be without a touchdown this term, but he ran hot in the Texans game and will find his feet at some stage. In fact, that latter comment applies collectively to this Tennessee team, which has yet to unlock its Pandora's box of potential. The ageing Hasselbeck certainly won't lack for motivation and should strip sharper now that he has gameday experience under his belt this season. He can certainly keep the Titans within handicap hailing distance.
So Roethlisberger's record-breaking may have to wait. As does the Hall of Fame.
Back Tennessee Titans (+5.5 points) on the Match Point Spread @ 2.111/10 or better
Back Tennessee Titans (+3 points) on the First-Half Point Spread @ 1.910/11 or better
Back C Johnson to be First / Anytime Touchdown Scorer @ 8.07/1 or better