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Ben Roethlisberger and the court of public opinion

I am a proud fan of the purple and black. Which means, of course, that I can’t stand the Pittsburgh Steelers or Big Ben.  So, as you might imagine, Wednesday’s six-game suspension of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was not unwelcome.

That said, I can’t say it makes me happy – there are too many little boys out there wearing #7 jerseys whose hero, at best, can’t get his act together, and at worst, well, we won’t go there.

In this layperson’s opinion (for whatever that’s worth), the suspension was warranted – and I’m not just saying that because the Ravens are slated to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh during the suspension. But it has left me with a lot to think about.

I actually used to have a soft spot for Big Ben – he and my husband share the same alma mater. Which is not much of an NFL-player factory. So, at the beginning of his career in particular, he seemed like an underdog of sorts to me. I kind of felt like I ought to root for him, at least just a little bit. Hines Ward – he’s easy to root against. Big Ben (until this whole mess started), not as much.

That, of course, has all changed now. He’s not a good guy anymore. And that “charge” will stick – no matter how any of these accusations, charges, whatever they are, end up playing out.

What the heck does this have anything to do with the practice of law, you might ask. Perhaps not much at all. Roethlisberger was suspended because he violated the NFL personal conduct policy. The NFL is, of course, a business, which has rules governing the behavior of its most precious commodities, and he broke those rules. Big time.

It’s the NFL’s right to suspend him. They are protecting their bottom line, and in the process at least trying to protect the hero-worship of “bad boys men boys” by little 5-year-olds (I have one of those, if you didn’t guess. Of course, he worships a guy who probably spends his Saturday nights at home with his mother in New Jersey – and I’m more than OK with that).

But perhaps it does have something to do with the practice of law. Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t had charges brought against him. He wasn’t arrested. There may be reams of evidence pointing to criminal behavior (likely, I imagine), but nothing that law enforcement has deemed to rise to the level of warranting actual legal action.

So what happens when the next set of allegations are made? Any way that Big Ben gets a fair trial – or, for that matter, that the charges aren’t brought the next time? Hard to imagine, since the NFL has already convicted him. Not to mention the public.

I’m not saying the NFL was wrong – I don’t think they were. They have player conduct rules (as they should) and Ben Roethlisberger clearly broke those rules. Nor am I saying that Big Ben was in any way, shape or form right in what he probably did. Quite the opposite.

But we should recognize, for good or for bad, that there are implications to the suspension that go well beyond whether or not the Ravens have to face Big Ben on Oct. 1.

5 comments

  1. I hope one day when your boy is unjustly unaccused of something he did not do that hes not as crucified in the media as Ben has been because of some slutty sorority sisters who want their 15 minutes of fame. You did notice that they allowed their names to be used. Furthermore, I hope that you son grows up to not worship sports heroes. They are just everyday people with a God given talent that were lucky enough to get a break. How about some of you bloggers and reporters reading the entire 500 pages and telling the public how the mystery girl was hanging all over Ben on the way to the bathroom laughing, and how her story changed a hundred times, and how even the shirt she was wearing out the bars was an open proposition. Yes, Ben should be more careful, and if when you were a 28 year old guy you could walk away from a piece flaunting at you, good for you cause your much stronger then most, if not all of the guys I know.

  2. I remember not long ago a Raven under the microscope for possible murder charges. Yes, Ray Lewis. I was angery the way he was treated by the NFL & the public. I felt, at the time, strip him of any NFL rights or claims. But, I now feel that Ray has earned the title “role model”. I’m sorry it took the kind of wake up call that it did,but, it seems to have turned his life around.
    I hope this is the last time we hear a negative report of Big Ben on or off the field. It’s been obvious to me, at least, that Ben is nothing more than a big kid. A naughty kid who’s been told “yes” so much that he automaticlly expects it. This 6 game suspention may be what it takes to wake this butthead up. A 6 game ass woppin’ he’s needed for some time.
    Lets hope the NFL, the Steelers & everyone else in this young mans life will use this oppertunity, while he’s young, to make him the man that we will some day say”I think I’ll get lil Timmy that #7 jersey he wants for his birthday.” knowing lil Timmy has picked a worthy role model. Only time will tell.
    One only needs to look to T.O. to know that fans tire quickly of stupidity & so do the people who sign endorsments, BEN……
    Big Rick Matthews, KCLV 99.1 radio Clovis New Mexico

  3. Interesting that the first comment, from a woman no less, goes right to the “she was asking for it” defense. Are you enjoying the 1920’s? The rest of us who live in 2010 don’t really think that a girl flirting or showing some decolletage is a green light to do whatever you want.

    Ben may not be (able to be proven) a criminal, but he certainly deserved the suspension he got for embarrassing his team and the league. If you think he didn’t do anything wrong, don’t you at least find it odd that he seems to get “unjustly accused” an awful lot?

  4. Why is the ability to throw a ball a “God given talent”? I’ll never understand the hero worship of athletes. They run fast, super, they catch a ball, whatever. This is who you want to emulate? Really?

    Setting that aside, can we get a spell checker for these posts please?

  5. Just what conduct caused the suspension? I understood it was for providing alcohol to underage individuals.