If the talking heads are correct, then it looks like Ben Roethlisberger is going to get some kind of suspension. Is it the right way to go? Everyone seems to think so, from what I’ve heard and read. What do I think? I don’t know. I know that a lot of the reasons being floated around don’t quite work for me. In fact, I can only think of one good reason to suspend him, and I’ll get to that at the end. But first, let’s look at the bad reasons:
To protect the shield
For those who haven’t heard, ‘protecting the shield’ is a really stupid cliche that was unveiled during the Michael Vick ordeal, referring to the maintenance of the league’s sterling image in the eyes of the public. To some, a suspension for Roethlisberger is vital to preserve the reputation of the league. I don’t think so. You know why? Because the ‘shield’ DOESN’T NEED PROTECTING! The NFL has television contracts with every major network; they have house men at Sports Illustrated and many major newspapers. With that army of sycophants, they are in no danger of a hit to their reputation anytime soon. If they weren’t hurt by Vick, Chris Henry, Pac Man Jones, Tank Johnson, Matt Jones, or any of the other criminals in their ranks, they surely won’t be hurt by a guy who wasn’t even charged with a crime. Do you really think that anyone is going to stop watching the NFL because of this?
Racially fair treatment
A lot of has been made about how Goodell has been quick to drop the hammer on black players before criminal convictions have been attained, and that it’s only fair that he do so to Roethlisberger. Uhh……..not really. Ben has a series of ‘incidents’, but no arrests, no charges, no nothing. So if we’re simply talking about athletes in trouble with the law, then we got nothing here to debate. Despite his obvious behavioral failings, until he gets some type of charge or something, he’s no different than the likely countless number of other players who get into ‘situations’ that don’t end up in a courtroom of any kind. And since there won’t be any charges filed, he’s officially not a criminal, alleged or otherwise. On the other hand, Matt Jones got busted with drugs and got a three-game suspension he rightfully earned.
Now that doesn’t mean the media should go light on him; he deserves every bit of contempt that people like Tiger Woods and every “five kids by five different women” guy gets from the press. You can’t call Tiger a bad guy for what he did, none of which was illegal, and then act like Ben is just immature. Sorry.
And now, to our one good reason to suspend Ben……
For his own good (and the public’s)
The guy needs help of some kind. The motorcycle crash and the two allegations of sexual misconduct prove that. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire; for all we know there are other victims who were just too scared to go to the police afterward. The man has got some issues, and as long as he’s allowed to keep playing unabated he won’t get any help with them. He still may not even if he does get suspended, but there’s a real danger that he goes on about his way until he gets into another entanglement, one he won’t be able to get out of. And that’s not even mentioning the women who may end up as future victims. He obviously needs to see that he can’t just go around doing whatever he wants without there being any consequences.
Ben, you’re 28 years old. It’s time to stop hanging around college bars trying to score with coeds. This one was 20 years old, the next one might be 17 claiming to be 18. Regardless, there’s a time when you have to move on and accept where you are in life. That doesn’t mean you have to get married and have a family; if that’s not you then don’t fake it for us. You can still get your party on, go to clubs, hang out in the VIP room, and have drinks with women who are closer to your age. And I’m guessing that you’ll be able to find someone willing to do whatever it is you’re looking to do without accusing you of a crime the next day. You’re rich and famous, so there will always be someone. But if you keep things up like you’re doing, soon we’ll be watching you on a Saturday, on COPS or America’s Most Wanted, instead of on Sundays, and you’ll be wearing orange instead of black and gold.