A certain quarterback in Pittsburgh needs to be thanking his lucky stars.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for six games to begin the 2010-2011 NFL season for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy.
If Roethlisberger follows the conditions laid out by Goodell and the NFL his suspension could be reduced to four games.
The suspension stems from an incident in March where a 20-year-old Georgia woman accused Roethlisberger of sexual assault after the two met each other at a bar.
After a month-long investigation, police chose not to file charges against the quarterback citing there was no crime committed.
This wasn’t the first time Roethlisberger had been accused of sexual assault. In July 2009, a Nevada woman filed a civil suit against him, alleging he raped her in 2008. Roethlisberger denied the accusation and no criminal charges were filed.
In a letter written to Roethlisberger after the suspension, Goodell condemned the Steelers quarterback for his conduct.
“You are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans,” Goodell told Roethlisberger.
The fact of the matter is Goodell wasn’t tough enough on Roethlisberger. All you have to do is read a synopsis of the 572-page police report to realize Roethlisberger’s actions that night should have resulted in a full year suspension.
According to the police report, on the night in question one of Roethlisberger’s bodyguards led the victim, who was extremely intoxicated, to a bathroom at the back of Capital City bar in Milledgeville, Ga. A friend of the victim saw this happen and attempted to interject, but the bodyguard wouldn’t let the friend pass.
Roethlisberger, who was also reportedly intoxicated, then went into the bathroom with his genitals exposed. The victim repeatedly told Roethlisberger “no,” that they shouldn’t be doing this. He told the victim that it was “OK” and proceeded to have sex with her.
I don’t know how anyone can listen to those gruesome details and not think Roethlisberger should have had the book thrown at him.
To be frank, those kinds of actions aren’t something someone just randomly does, and it isn’t like this is Roethlisberger’s first offense. While he was never charged in the first sexual assault case, it’s easy to make the assumption that he was up to no good that night.
Goodell has laid the hammer down on guys like Michael Vick and Pacman Jones. Jones received a full year suspension and Vick was suspended indefinitely before being reinstated.
I’m not going to say this is an issue of race because I don’t believe it is. I don’t think Goodell cares that Roethlisberger is white, and if he was black, the same punishment would have been handed down.
However, I do think Goodell went easy on Roethlisberger because he is a two-time Super Bowl champion and widely considered one of the best quarterbacks in the game.
Goodell knows that with time even the most egregious offenses can be forgiven. Ask Ray Lewis and Kobe Bryant. He isn’t going to bite the hand that feeds him.
The Steelers are one of the NFL’s most profitable franchises ,and it would not be good business for the NFL if the franchise player of one of their most important teams doesn’t play for an entire year.
I can’t think of any other explanation for why Roethlisberger’s suspension would be so short, and we all know that his suspension will ultimately be reduced to four games.
I was a huge fan of Goodell before the Roethlisberger situation. I still think he is a good commissioner, but he missed the target on this one.
As for Roethlisberger, it’s hard to imagine a bigger slime. I believe in karma, and Roethlisberger will get his eventually.
Alex Ross is a freshman sports communications major from Fishers, Ind. He is the Scout assistant sports editor.
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