Friday, April 16, 2010
Ben Roethlisberger Deserves Suspension? Not a Chance!
The concern surrounding Ben Roethlisberger’s latest episode on sexual assault is misguided and strictly bias.
Either an ethical district attorney wants to punish the two-time Super Bowl champ for his stupidity, or an irritable father wants the NFL to suspend Roethlisberger of his accusations that has transpired—not once, but twice—and has raised concern within the Steelers family.
Not long ago, charges in the Lake Tahoe case were dismissed, when a woman and employee of the resort accused him of sexual assault. His teammates label him as a hero, but the general public has mixed emotions.
Within the last month, hands have either pointed at Big Ben as if he’s a guilty malefactor, rather than a hallowed sports figure that every citizen in Pittsburgh endears after anchoring the franchise to two championships in the last decade.
But lately, all the speculations that the league—or even the franchise—should suspend Roethlisberger, are utterly ridiculous.
I clearly understand that commissioner Roger Goodell inserted a conduct policy, established to take down the bad guys in the league. I gather an understanding that he’s the NFL sheriff, who usually seizes control by handing a misbehaved player a heavy sanction as a way to learn a valuable lesson.
But in this situation, Goodell doesn’t have to issue a suspension to Big Ben. What’s fascinating about this ordeal is that some believes he deserves a punishment, after replicating absurdity off-the-field more than once. What’s amazing is that some are willing to penalize him when he has never been indicted, or even arrested, on sexual assault charges.
For all we know, he could be guilty, but manipulated Goodell and team executives to think otherwise. For all we know, he could have associated and encountered the wrong type of women whose accusations could be fabricated and misleading.
Maybe that’s what Goodell assumes, yet to react or respond amid a troubling situation.
He’s the one commissioner who never hesitated to discipline a renegade player for his off-the-field conduct or any nonsense involving criminality such as DUIs, dogfighting scandals, strip club shootings, or even the incident when Plaxico Burress shot himself in the right thigh.
In this instance, Goodell doesn’t have to wear the police hat or a badge declaring himself as the sheriff in a league of unmanageable superstars.
From the near-deadly motorcycle accident to the Lake Tahoe alleged sexual assault to Milledgeville, Ga., Roethlisberger hasn’t learned a valuable lesson and has lacked maturity as a loyal Rooney family is getting tired of his turmoil which has developed an unfathomable distraction.
It has even made an impact on law enforcement, leaving behind enough headaches and forced police officer Jerry Blash to resign Wednesday, a day before the Georgia Bureau of Investigation made public documents related to its investigation of a 20-year-old woman and college student who claims that Roethlisberger sexually assaulted inside a nightclub restroom.
Roethlisberger issued a one-minute statement Monday evening and seemed very apologetic.
He hung his head in shame, deeply embarrassed, and regretted that he potentially placed ill-fortune on teammates, coaching staff, and an authentic ownership that bestowed him with riches.
Meanwhile, the Rooneys are tempted to punish the centerpiece of their franchise, indifferent about winning, and committed to protecting character—a religious facet that symbolizes the franchise’s classiness.
Art Rooney II alluded in a statement earlier in the week that he’s contemplating if he’ll issue any disciplinary action. Monday afternoon he said, “In the coming days, Ben will meet with commissioner Goodell to discuss his resolve to abide by the league’s personal conduct standards. After consultation with the commissioner, our organization will determine the next step in this process.”
By suspending Roethlisberger, it sends an example to team players, as well as the league. And if the Steelers—the fifth-oldest franchise in the NFL—traded its valuable wide receiver Santonio Holmes, the superstar whose heroics clinched Pittsburgh’s sixth title when he connected with Big Ben for arguably the biggest game-winning touchdown catch in Super Bowl history, to the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick, that explains the organization is burnt out of pointless troubles.
The Steelers have no regrets jettisoning Holmes, who was benched for a game in 2008 after he was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession.
In fairness, that’s why some are suggesting he should be suspended. But it’s not a good explanation in suspending a player for someone else’s wrongdoing.
There’s a slight difference, Roethlisberger has never been liable of guilt, but Holmes was charged with a misdemeanor. That’s not a good explanation, even if the league or franchise believes they have to set an example and identify Big Ben as the next poster boy of the league, since Adam 'Pacman' Jones ran into unlawful troubles.
His first incident was a red flag, the second incident raised concerns. When a quarterback, team leader, or anybody for the matter, is accused by a different woman in a different state, there are indications that a player is immune to problems.
He wasn’t arrested or charged in either case, but next time he may not be too lucky to get away with his foolishness if he’s a criminal and not a victim. For the time being, we may never know the truth to the puzzling issue perturbing the Rooneys.
Twice in less than two years, Roethlisberger has been accused for sexual assault, the latest issue last month was inside a college bar where he was partying and drinking.
He invited women into the club’s VIP room to drink some of his shots, as one of the women was under the legal age of drinking and was intoxicated. Later, Roethlisberger followed her down the hallway and into the restroom.
It has turned into a perturbing situation for the Rooney family who signed him to an enormous $102 million paycheck, one of the richest deals for a pro football star.
Fred Bright, the district attorney, probably feels Roethlisberger deserves to serve a suspension. He said bruises and bleeding was seen on the victim when she underwent a hospital exam. Not to sound naïve, but who really knows if Roethlisberger was the one involved?
There’s not enough evidence to prove if he’s guilty or not, nor is there a reason to suspend him. But many think it’s fair to suspend Roethlisberger for numerous reasons.
One reason being that his name surfaces on a regular basis about sexual assault. Secondly, Goodell had the leverage and authority under the league’s conduct policy to suspend a player of ruining the NFL’s reputation. There’s no need to proactively set standards, especially if minor ramifications are falsified, something that could mark his image.
There’s speculation and buzz surrounding the Steelers as to whether they’ll trade the problematic quarterback. All of which seems logical, but it sounds as if he’ll remain in a Steelers uniform despite all the havoc circling the franchise and agitating a displeased Rooney family.
It’s rare to see the Steelers protect renegade superstars, solicitous about its image and pride. They’ll be willing to move and they like the potential of Dennis Dixon, but he’s inexperienced. The primary target among quarterbacks might be Charlie Batch, a 35-year-old who’s reliable and has veteran leadership that could take Pittsburgh a long way.
If someone is somber at the workplace, it’s head coach Mike Tomlin. He hasn’t really lashed out about the woes that have dragged down the spirit and divided Steelers Nation, but he is willing to move on and elude the uncontrollable debacles.
These days, Roethlisberger is running out of time and answers. He would be the fortunate one if he’s a Steeler by next season. Like many, he’s leaning towards self-destruction if he continues to follow this disturbing pattern.
It would be a real shame to put his career in jeopardy for his poor judgment off-the-field at nightclubs, intoxicated with bimbos.
Still, he shouldn’t be suspended when innocent.
You know the phrase, innocent until proven guilty.