Prepare For Things To Get Messy For Big Ben

Will this be the cover of the 2010 Steelers Media Guide?

So now Big Ben is claiming, in so many words, that “he did not have sex with that woman” (or something along those lines) — the said woman being his accuser in the currently-unfolding sexual assault complaint that Roethlesberger finds himself embroiled in.  However, he does admit to having “sexual contact” with his accuser — at least according to this report by MSNBC.  That’s a nice way of looking at it — by chance, is he getting advice from former President Clinton these days on how to distinguish between sex acts?

All kidding aside, this sordid tale is going to end up as a major black eye for not only Roethlisberger, but for the Steelers and the NFL as well, before it’s all over.  Look, we all know that the average professional athlete sees women throwing themselves at them on a regular basis.  We all know that random sex is pretty much a case of “where and when do you want it?” situation with those athletes as well.  But that doesn’t mean that we want to know all about it and have the private lives of our athletes turned into a version of a “Letters to Penthouse” column either.

You want a great example of a celebrity keeping their private life just that? Look no further than Derek Jeter.

Even if you want to give the benefit of the doubt to Roethlisberger at this point, it’s hard to be anything but extremely critical of his seeming immaturity.  If the stories filtering out about his behavior on the bar circuit are to believed, the Steelers quarterback looks to be living his life with motto of  “I get older, they stay the same age.”   Hitting on coeds in a small-town college bar isn’t anything you’d hear of Derek Jeter doing, is it?  Or showing up in photos half-baked by alcohol?  Jeter lived the bachelor life for a long time, with a veritable all-star lineup of famous beauties coming in and out of his world, and the embarrassing photos and stories we’ve seen of Roethlisberger’s behavior in the last year were something you never saw from someone like the Yankees’ shortstop.  I’m not begrudging Big Ben to fight for his right to party, but a little discretion and common sense deifintely seems to be lacking on his part.

Of course, we may be looking at something far more serious than a frat boy trapped in an adult quarterback’s body.  Roethisberger’s story of this latest dust-up already smells fishy, and (again according to MSNBC) the Steelers’ star is not consenting to another police interview, nor is he willing to provide a DNA sample to investigators (as of yet).  The adage is “innocent until proven guilty”, but the other adage “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” also applies — and in Big Ben’s case, there’s been a whole lot of smoke in the past year.

The interesting thing to me at this point is the lack of comment from the NFL on the matter.  Commissioner Roger Goodell may find himself quickly on the hot seat to discipline Roethlisberger at some point as the situation unfolds, even if the case doesn’t go to trial — even if Roethlisberger is never charged by police.  The Steelers QB is cultivating an image — fair or not — right now of a wealthy athlete who thinks the rules of society don’t apply to him, particularly when it comes to how he treats the opposite sex.  One isolated incident wouldn’t cause this shift of perception — but the disturbing pattern of events that have followed Roethlisberger over the last twelve months (starting with the rape accusation against him by the former Lake Tahoe employee last year) have many people believing that he is a serial offender and already proclaiming him guilty.  Guilty of what?  There’s a segment of the public that isn’t going to wait to find out what.

And considering the hard line that Goodell has taken with other NFL players during his tenure as commissioner, at some point, he’s going to have to address the issue with Roethlisberger — and hand out some sort of punishment — or he’ll be facing some uncomfortable questions about the fairness of the NFL’s conduct policy — and whether or not it’s truly handed out indiscriminately.  With the exception of Jacksonville receiver Matt Jones, all of the players who have been subject to suspensions have been African-American.  Except for current Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (who at the time of his suspension, had already pleaded guilty to federal charges of dog fighting), none of those who’ve been suspended had anywhere near the name recognition of Roethlisberger, nor were they high-profile players at the game’s most visible position.  In addition, none were faced with accusations as serious as Roethlisberger has faced.

Goodell will have to do something at some point, particularly if more ugly details emerge about this latest incident.  Even if he didn’t commit a crime, Roethlisberger is certainly engaging in conduct that has the potential to embarrass and damage the league’s carefully-crafted image — nothing in the NFL policy states that a player has to be convicted in a court of law first in order to face punishment — and if the NFL chooses to turn its head and wait for the mess to simply go away, they’re going to be rightly accused of utilizing a double standard for their “star” players — as well as a double standard when it comes to white athletes behavior aside of that of black ones.    Both would be potential quagmires that I would guess Goodell wants no part of wading through.  If he doesn’t speak up soon, he may find out though that he doesn’t have a choice.

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One Response to “Prepare For Things To Get Messy For Big Ben”

  1. Goodell will not speak on this issue due too the fact the league is fighting to keep fans in the stands. Handing down a suspension to a high profile player could be damaging for the steelers and the nfl. Many feel it is because of race and as situations have shown afican american athletes that were suspened were not really producing but dealt with swiftly. Never the less ben has left the crime scene and seeked councel

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