Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter
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Monday, January 24, 2011

There's a James Thurber story called "The Greatest Man in the World" about an aviator who flew around the world. The press was anxious to lionize him, but Jack ("Pal") Smurch, "erstwhile mechanic's helper in a small garage in Westfield, Iowa" turns out to be a thug. Confronted with the reality of a national hero who is not cut from heroic cloth the assembled press secretly assassinate Smuch, then write their story the way these sorts of stories are always written. It's a nicely done bit of work: when he put his mind to it Thurber was an exquisite writer-- he dates now because his great subject was his own misogyny.

Which brings us to Ben Roethlisberger. When we talk about all-time great quarterbacks-- or just about the best QBs of the moment-- he has to be in the conversation, and that is an awkward thing, to say the least, because the rest of the conversation about Ben Roethlisberger has to include the sexual assault allegations in Lake Tahoe in 2008 and in Milledgeville, Georgia, in 2010. It's too bad Michael Vick and the Eagles didn't make it to the Super Bowl: it would have been interesting to see how the league, the press and the public dealt with that sort of cognitive dissonance. My hunch is that the spin on Vick would have been about his "quest for redemption" and the Roethlisberger story would have been about his quest for a third ring.

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