Ben Roethlisberger does not have cancer, and neither does he have a Facebook page.
"There's no truth to it. I don't have any of that stuff," the Steelers quarterback proclaimed yesterday.
"That stuff" are accounts on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and any other social networking Web sites. Roethlisberger said he does not use them, including the one under his name that proclaimed he had skin cancer.
"I had a bunch of people ask me about it. Obviously it's not true," Roethlisberger said after yesterday's spring practice. "We had to go on our Web site to let them know I don't have an account. There's nothing going on."
Accounts proclaiming to belong to Roethlisberger were still listed yesterday on Facebook.com, MySpace.com and Twitter.com.
Roethlisberger said someone in the office of his agent, Ryan Tollner, has been working on removing such posts as this one that proclaimed he was sick:
I am sorry to all my friends cause I have not been on here in a while. As you may soon find out, I have been diagnosed with skin cancer. It is not too serious, but will need further (sic) attention. This has taken up most of my time. I will try to get on here more. I would appreciate your prayers!
Tollner posted this response on the Web site Bigbennews.com:
"Ben positively does not have Facebook or MySpace pages, nor a Twitter account! Any such postings are imposters and should be disregarded. We are actively working to end this problem with those companies."
Tollner could not be reached for comment.
Roethlisberger is among a growing list of athletes and celebrities who have been victimized by the growing popularity -- and apparent lack of security -- of the social networking sites. In the past week, Twitter accounts purportedly belonging to Philadelphia Eagles defensive players Assante Samuel and Trent Cole were exposed as fakes. On those sites, someone writing as Samuel predicted a Super Bowl for the Eagles, and "Cole" wrote about his new sack dance.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin also has seen imposter accounts opened in his name, he said.
Besides posting false information, Roethlisberger said people he knows get perturbed when he does not respond when they reach out to "him" on the site under his name.
"I get people all the time who come up to me and they actually get really mad because I didn't talk to them on Facebook or something, or MySpace," Roethlisberger said. "I try to tell them I don't have it."
Roethlisberger said even though his agent has tried to keep imposters from creating accounts in his name, they keep popping up and there is little they can do about it.
"I think you can always tell the Web site to kind of get rid of it but I think anybody at any time can then just come back on, I believe, and put another one on," the quarterback said.
On the MySpace.com site under Roethlisberger's name, an imposter wrote in the "About me" section:
"Hi everyone I am Ben Roethlisberger QB for the Superbowl (sic) Champion Pittsburgh Steelers ... that sounds great doesn't it? Well Hines Ward was talking about how great it was to have these things so I guess I had to make one. I was really suprised (sic) at how many people were actually faking being me. It was kind of cool and creepy at the same time. Well if you want to know more than (sic) just ask me and I will help you out."
Another imposter, Roethlisberger said.
Phone messages left for MySpace.com and Facebook.com were not returned, and an e-mail sent to Twitter.com was not answered.
Roethlisberger has one official Web site, BigBen7.com, and once upon a time he would blog on it. His most recent blog, however, was posted Aug. 14, 2008. He said he refers people to the fan-run Web site, bigbennews.com, as one he trusts besides his own.
NOTE -- This afternoon, President Obama will welcome the Steelers to the White House. A White House source said he will deliver brief remarks on the South Portico before assembling care packages on the South Lawn for troops with team members and wounded warriors.
Ed Bouchette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published May 21, 2009 4:00 AM