Bob Smizik: Rumormongering persists at NFL Network

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The NFL Network received such an enormous response from its report Sunday that Ben Roethlisberger wanted to be traded and that in the past offseason the Steelers ''fielded offers" for him -- all vehemently denied -- that it came back Thursday night with a full dose of rumors and speculation about the team.

Let’s review some of the accusations made by NFL Network commentators:

The cheapest shot: Michael Silver, a decorated and respected writer, said this about Roethlisberger: ''... away from the facility he is not Peyton Manning."

That happens to be true and it happens to be meaningless. The easiest way to make someone look bad is to compare him to the best. Of course he’s not Peyton Manning away from the field. No one is.

That would be like saying a coach doesn’t have the offensive savvy of Bill Walsh or a lineman doesn’t work out like Mike Webster did.

There is no shame, as Silver tried to suggest, in not preparing like Peyton Manning.

The flimsiest: This comment from Ian Rapoport: "There could be big changes coming to Pittsburgh but I am told not to coach Mike Tomlin. He is safe for 2014."

No kidding. Rapoport, who speculated Sunday about Roethlisberger, brought forth this nugget as though it were news. It is a foregone conclusion known to everyone that Tomlin will be back.

To suggest this is some kind of inside information -- "I’m told" -- is just bad journalism and an attempt by Rapoport to attach himself to something that’s actually true.

The most pathetic: LaDainian Tomlinson, the Hall of Fame running back, suggested Roethlisberger has lost his passion for the game. He said, ''My last couple of years in San Diego there was a change in philosophy and you lose your passion to play the game. When I saw Ben on film that’s what I’m seeing -- is the disconnect from him and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. ’’

I’d love for Tomlinson to cite an example of Roethlisberger losing his passion. This is the guy who wouldn’t come out of the rout against New England. This is the guy who takes as much of a beating as any quarterback in the league and comes back and never flinches.

He is the personification of passion for the game. Tomlinson is nuts if he says he sees a lack of passion on film.

As for the disconnect between Roethlisberger and Haley, exactly where is it? It’s possible, maybe probable, Roethlisberger is not in love with Haley’s offense. He has shown no disconnect.

It’s common to end a story with the phrase, ''stay tuned," as to suggest there’s more to come. With the NFL Network it’s best to say, ''Don’t stay tuned."


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