DMN: Should Pack take a chance on Westbrook?

QUOTE: “No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” -- Confucius

Pack and Westbrook?

There’s a report that the Packers are looking into the possibility of signing former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook. On paper, this looks like a smart move for the Pack, adding a veteran third-down back who can pass protect and make plays in the passing game. But that’s just on paper. The uncertainty of Westbrook’s health may make this potential signing unrealistic. The concerns are not just due to Westbrook’s bouts with concussions last season but also his history of knee and ankle injuries that limit his practice time during the week. In fact, sources have told me that concerns about passing a physical have forced Westbrook to look into possibly entering the broadcasting field next season.

If the Packers really want Westbrook, they’re going to have to waive some injury concerns and accept the fact he won’t be able to practice weekly. They’re also going to have to make sure he’s fresh for the end of the season when the playoffs roll around. If Westbrook can stay healthy, or even get healthy (two huge if’s), this move would give the Packers an effective third-down back and make their offense more explosive. But I strongly doubt his health will allow him to return to his glory days.

Steelers and Big Ben

I received many emails saying that since the Steelers traded one problem, maybe they should trade their other problem, Big Ben. Not so fast. The Steelers are willing to work with Ben Roethlisberger to deal with his problems, but they’re not willing to send him down the road. The problems facing Santonio Holmes, along with the Steelers not having an extension of his contract, made him the easy one to ship out of town for a significantly cheap price.

The Steelers can always find another wide receiver, but they have time and substantial money invested in Big Ben. They need to be strongly proactive in dealing with Roethlisberger, which includes some form of suspension — my recommendation would be at least one game and a hefty fine. At some point, Roethlisberger is going to have to grow up and not be the party animal who feels his status entitles him to special privileges in social circles. When Roethlisberger signed his new deal with the Steelers, he became a wealthy man, but with the wealth comes responsibility in the work place and in his daily life. He’s no longer a frat boy on the campus of Miami of Ohio; he’s part of the Steelers brand and must uphold that brand.

It’s no secret in NFL circles that Roethlisberger is not detailed in his work habits or his weekly game preparations. He makes mistakes on the field because of his lack of preparation, but his talent often overcomes the problems. As a result, he has never faced the cold reality that he needs to act like a true professional. Success is a great deodorant for hiding flaws or problems, and Roethlisberger’s recent success has made it tough for the Steelers coaches and staff to reason with his lack of dedication and preparation.

As I’ve written before, my belief is that fear often does the work of reason, and Roethlisberger’s second brush with the law should make him fearful — understanding that he has never been formally charged, but as my father always told me growing up, “You are who you hang around with.” And in the last two incidents, Roethlisberger has been in the wrong circles.

First time being in the wrong place is not your fault, but the second time, the blame lies within. So Roethlisberger must use this recent mishap as a defining moment that forces him to make changes in his life. He has too much to lose if he does not face the reality of the problems he has created. He must admit his mistakes, find a humble moment in his life and rededicate himself to changing. Changing will win over his teammates, win over his fan base and, most of all, win over the Steelers.

Now is the turning point in Roethlisberger’s career. He must learn to respect his career, respect the team, respect his teammates and respect people.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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