The Pittsburgh Steelers Might Be Better Right Now if They Had Colin Kaepernick Instead of Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger (Justin Aller/Getty Images)
Ben Roethlisberger (Justin Aller/Getty Images)

Last week the Tennessee Titans signed sentient dumpster juice Brandon Weeden as an insurance policy behind Marcus Mariota, their oft-injured starter. In Weeden’s defense, he might actually be a pretty swell guy, so referring to him as sentient dumpster juice might be a tad harsh. But as an NFL quarterback, he is known more for his pervasive dumpster juiceness than anything else.

Naturally, since Weeden is one of at least two dozen quarterbacks in the NFL that Colin Kaepernick is clearly better than right now, this inspired another round of “So this guy got a job but Colin Kaepernick can’t?” Yahtzee—a game that actually gives the NFL too much credit.

Collectively, we’ve allowed ourselves to be seduced by the idea that “playing NFL quarterback effectively” is the single hardest shit to do—not just in sports but, like, in the entire world. Sure, quarterbacking is hard, but the way people talk about and revere these dudes, you’d think each completed pattern conjured a new element on the periodic table. We treat quarterbacks how niggas treat the one plate of properly seasoned meat at company potlucks. And it’s (probably) not coincidental at all that this reverence exists, since it remains a disproportionately white position. Only the best and brightest (read: whitest) need apply.


This unseemly adulation appears in the way we talk about Kaepernick’s unemployment, since his current status and talent level are often compared with the Brandon Weedens and Landry Joneses and the rest of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. “Of course,” this juxtaposition implies, “he couldn’t be a winning starter. Those guys are untouchable. But he’s better than sentient dumpster trash.”

Ben Roethlisberger is one of those untouchables—a status he’s earned through a career that’ll likely take him to the Hall of Fame. But today, in October of 2017, he’s sentient dumpster juice, too. After his five-interception game today, he has six touchdowns and seven interceptions on the season and has been the most disappointing player on a team that’s talented enough to win a Super Bowl. He’s been given the keys to a Maybach, and he’s driving it like he’s drunk.

This is the same Roethlisberger who found time last week to criticize the best player on the team, whose crime was being upset at Ben for not doing his job. And if you rewind two weeks, Roethlisberger was apparently the one who decided that the Steelers should stay in the tunnel during the anthem, a decision that angered many of his teammates (including Antonio Brown) who wanted to kneel on the field. Adding insult to caucasity, Roethlisberger released a statement later that week claiming that the anthem protest (which wasn’t even a protest!) upset him so much that he couldn’t sleep, effectively throwing his (predominantly black) teammates under the bus again.

So basically, he’s been trash on the field and trash in the locker room—a shameless hypocrite who criticizes his teammates’ behavior in public (calling them “distractions”) while those same teammates remain aware of the very real (and quite distracting) rape allegations their leader has faced. Right now, the Steelers are 3 and 2, and I have no doubt that their record wouldn’t be any worse if Kaepernick had replaced him as the starter.


I’m not saying he should, or that the Steelers should sign him tomorrow and immediately name him starter. Just that he could. Those niggas quarterbacking ain’t all that special. (Except for Aaron Rodgers, of course. He’s special as fuck.)

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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Beckaroo Banzai

You gotta love how the NFL continues to employ a guy with multiple rape accusations, but it’s a bridge too far for them to hire a guy who peacefully protests the murder of black people. Fuck Ben Rapistburger and the NFL.