Charles Barkley was half-right.

A few years back, the NBA hall of famer said athletes are not role models.

They are, but they should not be.

I am not sure how many more reminders we need that athletes are people with great skills, but not necessarily great people.

Case in point, Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team I have called my own since before Roethlisberger was born.

In about a nine-month stretch, he has been accused of sexual assault twice.

That is two too many.

I do not know him personally and never will. He is an athlete, one I root for to do his job very well, and one I hope is a good person.

He may or may not have done the things he is accused. Time will tell.

But it is important that we remind kids that it is OK to root for the athlete, but do not confuse the notion the athlete we see on the field is the same person in his or her personal life.

Just because a person performs at the highest level does not mean he or she is a model person.

Whether it is a product of more media scrutiny certainly that plays a part or the fact athletes are more fallible (also true), the fact is athletes are showing up in the public record as much as the record books.

There is rarely a week that goes by that an athlete does not get in trouble for something.

From drinking and driving to sexual assault to drugs, there is an endless parade of stories on athletes behaving badly.

Anymore, when I am watching ESPN and another story pops up about an athlete, I am more annoyed than surprised.

I do not live in their world, but how can someone not hire a driver or get a ride home?

How can an athlete not understand the trappings of stardom and at least try and avoid them?

Do they all believe they are immune, that they are ones that will get away with something?

How can Roethlisberger, with one lawsuit hanging over his head, not do everything in his power to avoid another similar situation?

None of this makes sense.

As many problems as Tiger Woods has, at least so far no one has come forward claiming he forced himself on them.

That maybe is a small consolation, but the people he has hurt the most are members of his family.

The older I get, the more convinced I am that the rich and famous are false idols.

It used to be there was a Joe DiMaggio for kids to admire.

Today, the media probably would have hounded him over his marriage to actress Marilyn Monroe and maybe even found some dirt.

The public life is a delicate landscape for athletes to navigate. The money and fame are great. The constant scrutiny, not so much.

Not all athletes act up, and the ones who conduct themselves professionally are not as exciting to read about as the ones who cause problems. But the list of athletes who end up accused of crimes is growing.

It seems there is a sense of entitlement for some. They believe all the good things written about them and feel they can get away with almost anything.

That doesn't sound like a person any kid should emulate.

Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is the former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.