Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Apr 2010

Roethlisberger Officially Suspended Six Games

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has officially been suspended for the first six games of the season due to violations of the league's conduct policy. According to reports, he also can't practice with the team until he undergoes a "comprehensive behavioral evaluation," whatever that is.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 21 Apr 2010

203 comments, Last at 30 Apr 2010, 12:56am by MC2

Comments

1
by Justin Zeth :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 1:32pm

More than I thought, actually.

I won't enjoy watching the Steelers lose without him, but nevertheless I personally would not be sorry to never see him in a Steelers uniform again. Or any other uniform, for that matter.

I would suggest a Bengals uniform for him, but they're only interested in actual convicted felons, so he has some work to do.

9
by Bobman :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 1:54pm

A guy has to have SOMETHING to aspire to....

20
by Dean :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:21pm

Seems to me that the Steelers are the right uniform for him. Any Bengals jokes at this point are pure hypocracy.

How many wife-beaters has Pittsburgh had? Is it just two or is it more than that. Then add Rapeliesburger. They've never hesitated to take prima-donna WRs like Holmes and Plex, even if they don't keep them around. And that doesn't even mention Jeff Reed.

Steelers fans lost the ability to cast the first stone years ago.

119
by BD (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 12:35am

^ What he said, mostly. The real point here is that since the one awful year the Bengals had, they've mostly kept things together. I'm pretty sure (and it certainly seems like it) that the Steelers have actually had the worst record in the league for player misconduct since 06 or 07. Not that it matters, since they have two rings to the Bengals 0, but the Bengals-are-all-criminals stuff is maddeningly old at this point.

3
by alexbond :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 1:37pm

Karmic payback for the XL goal line sneak

4
by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 1:39pm

I don't think these two events are related. AT ALL.

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

25
by stay firm (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:40pm

He's making a "penetration" joke.

28
by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:55pm

Ah. That would make more sense!

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

5
by andrew :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 1:46pm

and the Steelers' five prime-time games all occur after the suspension ends. Assuming he's on the team (despite rumors I can't believe they'd trade him).

17
by Brendan Scolari :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:12pm

Five??? Ugh...

87
by BigCheese :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 6:22pm

Not having seen the schedule yet I can only hope that most of them fall in a flex spot and are merely place-holders to be replaced by games featuring teams with an actualy chance at the playoffs.

- Alvaro

127
by Brendan Scolari :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 2:43am

We can only hope. Only Sunday night games can be flexed though...

155
by JonC :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 12:20pm

Yes, interestingly enough, every single one of those games is scheduled for after his suspension...

164
by RickD :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 3:23pm

And what are the odds of that?

Just a tad over 10% (11 choose 5)/(16 choose 5)

One suspects a bit of coordination between the various league offices on this one.

6
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 1:47pm

Whee. So Roethlisberger gets accused of doing something, no charges are brought, and he's suspended for, as far as we know, "flirting while famous"? Goodell is getting silly with his league-discipline-for-random-events stuff.

And yet steroid guys like Merriman, and other substance abuse guys like the Minnesota pair, who are essentially cheating at football, are going to play every one of those six games.

I know Roethlisberger may have done something very icky. But if there aren't even charges brought, let alone a conviction, this is a pretty hefty slap for what is, officially, nothing.

8
by jimbohead :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 1:53pm

He's getting slapped because it's his second charge in 9 months. Courts have to treat things on a case-by-case basis evidence-wise, but Goodell doesn't have that problem. He can look at it and say, "even if there isn't enough to convict, there's enough suggestive evidence to determine that there is conduct detrimental."

Besides, there's no way he could give him a short, 2 game, suspension. He'd be inviting race suits.

Also, steriod abuse is different, b/c (as I understand it) it's specifically addressed in the CBA, and so cannot be included in conduct detrimental. Plus, with the Minnesota pair, a local court ruled the NFL's suspension illegal in that state.

198
by steelberger (not verified) :: Sat, 04/24/2010 - 12:21am

"He's getting slapped because it's his second charge in 9 months."

Umm, nope. This is the second accusation in 9 months. There have been ZERO charges.

That said, he needs to grow up and I think the suspension should hasten that process.

11
by Temo :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 1:57pm

and he's suspended for, as far as we know, "flirting while famous"?

For one thing, that's not at all what he was accused of doing. For another, while I do agree the punishment appears excessively harsh, all the reports out of Pittsburgh are that he has never treated people well and this is more of a "dude, you're a douchebag and it's reflecting badly on the NFL/Steelers" kind of punishment.

165
by RickD :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 3:31pm

The NFL isn't constrained by the need to see evidence proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The police report contains very damaging testimony. And yes, this is well beyond "flirting while famous". Sex in a bathroom with a drunken co-ed can hardly be described as "flirting".

15
by Eddo :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:10pm

First, this is a PR issue; Roethlisberger's reputation is now that of a rapist, fair or not. The NFL wants to be perceived as being a morally upstanding league (whether this is a good stance to take is up for debate), so they want to show that they look down upon those with a bad public image.

Second, Merriman and the Williamses were suspended by the league. Merriman served his, and the Vikings got theirs overturned in state court. If Roethlisberger wants to bring his case to court (which I'm sure he won't, as that could only bring up damning legal evidence) to get the suspension overturned, he can try.

16
by GnomeChumpsky (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:11pm

Criminal charges cannot be filed and a conviction cannot occur:
1. if it is merely likely that a person has committed a crime
2. if it is merely probable that a person has committed a crime
3. if it is very probable that a person has committed a crime, but it would not be provable in court.

Criminal charges can be filed and a conviction can occur:
4. if there is there is sufficient evidence to prove that a person has committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

The fact that criminal charges were not filed only means that #4 above is true.

22
by GnomeChumpsky (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:25pm

The final line of the previous comment should read "not true" instead of true.

182
by Briguy :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 11:26pm

This isn't true. A conviction cannot occur unless there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal charges can be filed against someone merely based on an accusation. After charges are filed, a person can only be held and taken to trial if there is "probable cause," which is a very low standard--basically, if there is enough evidence that a reasonable person *could* believe the accused committed the crime.

191
by Roscoe :: Fri, 04/23/2010 - 1:48pm

This is technically correct, but it doesn't work that way in practice. No reasonable prosecutor will seek an indictment on a person (especially a high profile defendant who is going to have a good defense team)unless he (at least)has enough evidence to meet the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard.

18
by tunesmith :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:12pm

Ben has already conceded that he has "a problem" and will be "changing around his life". This is a where's there's smoke, there's fire suspension, and everyone knows there is more than smoke - to the point that Ben isn't even trying to deny it.

31
by Anonymisses (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:59pm

I don't know about that. It seems to me that merely being accused of a crime is now as damaging to a player as actually committing one. Mike Vick had only a two game suspension (although it was effectively an 18 game suspension) for actually participating in dogfighting. Donte Stallworth was suspended for a full season for actually committing manslaughter. However, as far as I can tell, the first allegation against Roethlisberger was entirely untrue while the second was very suspicious but it seems now that even if it had gone to trial, there would not have been any evidence to convict him:
http://nationalsportsreview.com/sports/us/d-wil/2010/04/12/da-fred-brigh...
So, essentially Roger Goodell is basing his suspension on either the testimony of the accuser(s) or the fact that there is now pressure from the media to do something to him. Although the thing that bothers me most is that Goodell is acting like he thinks he knows what happened better than a District Attorney, it seems that the worst possible option for a athlete is to have an incident not go to trial. If he is innocent, he most likely gets away without a suspension. But if he is guilty, then he gets a suspension only about 2.5 times worse than if he is not tried at all. This is the home of statistics, i might be wrong but i think it is a good minimax strategy to be tried for the crime 2 thirds of the time.

33
by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:08pm

What if some sneaky team hires half-a-dozen women to publically contemplate charges against Peyton Manning? Nothing's proven, of course, but he gets suspended six games for "conduct detrimental."

40
by Anonymisses (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:25pm

That will be the new moneyball

43
by SFC B (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:36pm

Oooh... I didn't even think of the possibility that this could be used by other teams against other players. Shoot, really get dirty and have a man claim some sort of sexual misconduct against a player. Get the added benefit of making for homophobic clubhouse distractions!

180
by Anonymisses (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 8:55pm

It would add a whole new element to drafting players. "Sure he's got good hands, but his seduction just won't hold up in the NFL."

47
by Bobman :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:50pm

If that happens, I'm comin' after you with Joey Porter's pit bulls....

Sounds a little like Lawrence Taylor, back in the day, sending up hookers and a case of booze to an opponent's hotel room the night before a game. Outlandish, unbelievable, insane, and probably effective.

66
by GnomeChumpsky (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:23pm

Verdicts in the Criminal justice system are "guilty" and "not guilty", "innocent" is not an option. The facts remain the facts regardless of the verdict

81
by roguerouge :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 5:44pm

There wouldn't have been any evidence to convict him in Georgia, which requires force. In the state that I went to college at, we were told that if you were "highly intoxicated" you couldn't provide informed consent, which meant it was sexual assault. A heavily slurred "yes" wasn't consent.

166
by RickD :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 3:41pm

The NFL works with a different standard than "did a player commit a felony". The NFL can suspend a person simply for going out in public on numerous occasions, getting extremely drunk, and pursuing sexual encounters with 20-year old women.

Vick had "only a 2-game suspension" but he also spent nearly two years in prison. The NFL can keep prison in mind when assigning its own penalties.

79
by roguerouge :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 5:37pm

I understand your concern about a court of public opinion and the possibility of a Tyranny of the Majority.

But what is legal and what is moral are not the same things. What is illegal and what is bad for business are not the same things. You can be fired for being bad for business for doing nothing illegal at all. Ask any fan of the Jail Blazers or the Cincinnati Felons why perception matters in a sports entertainment business.

In addition, since there were serious errors on the part of the police (failure to secure the crime season, lead cop resigns after comments and pic with potential defendant taken that night, etc.), the fact that he did nothing provable beyond a reasonable doubt is not synonymous with doing nothing wrong.

Just out of curiosity, is there a morals clause in standard NFL contracts and does anyone know what it reads?

156
by JonC :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 12:27pm

Rape is the most under-reported crime in the US, at roughly one report for every 25 instances. Roethlisberger had a goon squad whose job it was to prevent anyone from entering a bar bathroom after the entry of a woman who became intoxicated drinking drinks he purchased for her. To compare cheating to this is both ridiculous and insulting. R. isn't the first person to get a healthy suspension after failing to be charged...

7
by MJK :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 1:47pm

Is it bad that my first thought was

"Drat, the Patriots play the Steelers in Week 10!"?

10
by Bobman :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 1:57pm

Don't be silly. Between now and Week 10 there's TONS of time for him to get some coeds drunk, lock them in a room, and show them Little Ben. You're just being pessimistic. Third time's the charm.

13
by Temo :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:00pm

Or drive his bare head through a car windshield.

Then again, given how many concussions he's had, he probably won't even feel that one.

48
by Bobman :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:50pm

You win.

ROFL

12
by are-tee :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 1:58pm

If he gets traded to Oakland, could that serve as punishment in lieu of the six game suspension?

14
by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:03pm

Here's betting there's a clause which allows for the reduction of said suspension to 2 or 3 games if he doesn't assault any woman in the next 5 months, or something like that.

19
by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:13pm

Ill take that bet, because it has already been stated that the suspension can be reduced by 2 games. 4 games seems more fair than 6 games anyway and he will get it reduced.

21
by >implying implications (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:23pm

http://twitter.com/Adam_Schefter/status/12586758471

Every team that everybody debated for Donovan McNabb is now back in play on Ben Roethlisberger. Same candidates, different QB.

http://twitter.com/Adam_Schefter/status/12590511372

Here are teams that Steelers have called about Roethlisberger: Rams, 49ers, Raiders, Bills, Jaguars, Seahawks and Browns.

http://twitter.com/Adam_Schefter/status/12590566370

Here are the known no's on interest in Roethlisberger right now: Rams, Bills. Others might not be, just not known yet.

23
by Harris :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:29pm

I find that difficult to believe. McNabb, for all his faults, doesn't carry the same negative PR baggage as Roethelisberger. He's not as talented at this point, but the Redskins (blech) don't have to deal with the headaches that will inevitably come from employing a suspected rapist either.

Hail Hydra!

24
by >implying implications (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:33pm

Is trading Roflburger now akin to trying to trade Vick?

26
by Harris :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:43pm

I don't think so. A team that signs Vick can always argue that his crimes are in the past, he's a changed man who has paid his debt to society and he doesn't have to sit for one-third of the season. It's clear Johnny Badtouch here isn't going to face any criminal charges and we're still finding out new things about his gray wang.

Hail Hydra!

29
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:57pm

A team that signs Vick can always argue that his crimes are in the past,

Ditto for Roethlisberger. The only way a Vick signing team can say that is if Vick isn't caught in a dogfighting scandal again (or similar). It's the same thing with Roethlisberger.

he's a changed man who has paid his debt to society

You can claim Roethlisberger's a changed man too, or a chang-ing one, with your team doing the changing. Bonus points. The debt to society thing is easy to replicate - you do what the Eagles did with Vick and force Roethlisberger to do community service-like things and donate lots of money.

and he doesn't have to sit for one-third of the season.

I'll take a franchise QB for 2/3 of this season plus many more over Vick for a full season anyday.

36
by dryheat :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:15pm

Vick did jail time. That's the "paid his debt" part. When she gets in trouble, my three-year old daughter promises to behave better all the time. Nobody actually expects her to.

51
by Bobman :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:54pm

Send her to the Raiders as punishment.

That'll learn her.

Or tell her you're calling the Rams and the Browns to discuss her future.

55
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:03pm

Vick did jail time. That's the "paid his debt" part.

You're totally missing the point. It's not about whether or not anyone would believe Roethlisberger. It's about the team's image. That's all that matters. So long as the team's image stays clean, so long as Roethlisberger stays clean, the fans will support the team (and him). And if Roethlisberger doesn't stay clean, so long as the team axes him, the fans will still support the team.

It's Pacman Jones all over again. I mean, really - the Cowboys acquired him, they surrounded him with 'mentors,' etc. and then when it didn't work, they tossed him. The Cowboys got a bit of bad PR for it, but really, very little. There were a lot more about Jones's attempt to redeem his "troubled life, full of bad decisions."

It's the same exact thing.

38
by Harris :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:19pm

Try that argument in a press conference. Any reporter worth his fedora and trench coat stands up and says, "Uh, Vick committed his crimes more than two years ago and spent a year in jail for it. Your man has been accused of rape twice in the past 12 months alone and, thanks in part to some remarkably suspect police work, never spent a day behind bars. Why do you feel it's incumbent on this team to rehabilitate a repeat sex offender?"

Hail Hydra!

44
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:44pm

And any PR guy worth his salt will make that reporter look like a total jackass by saying "Here at Team X, we believe that everyone deserves second chances, and we're willing to work with any of our players who has struggles or difficulties of any kind. Ben's been tortured every day regarding his actions for months now. We believe that Ben wants to change, knows he needs to change, and we believe that we have the unique situation here to help him. We know that our community is supportive and forgiving, and will embrace the challenge of helping Ben turn away from his destructive path."

The jail time thing is just totally pointless. All the public forum will care about is whether Roethlisberger's actions change, not how they change or why they change. Team X can't lose this argument in the media unless Ben's actions continue and they don't axe him immediately. Can't. How could they? All you need to do is separate Ben's actions from Team X, and that's easy - because they happened before he was acquired.

Again, you don't need to convince the undecided people or the ones who started off negative (like the media, or you). You just need to convince people who were already willing to accept any reasonable-sounding statement. The media may lambast you (several blasted the Eagles, or the Cowboys when they acquired Jones) but the fans won't. And that's all that's really important.

49
by jimbohead :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:51pm

depends on the team, depends on the city. For instance, for San Fran, acquiring someone like Big Ben would be so antithetical to the nature of Singletary that his head may explode. He prides himself on being a family man, and that's how he's building the image of that team. When he interviews free agents, or coaches, for instance, he pretty consistently has part of the interview over dinner with his wife and the wife of the interviewee. Public backlash ensues b/c it's antithetical to the image created, and thus hypocritical, no matter what the PR guy says.

Its also important to note that the PR guy doesn't have the power to establish discourse, nor do the fans. Discourse parameters are established by the media. The PR guy tries to direct it, and the fans react. In the case of Vick, by the time he got out of prison, the media had come around to liking him again, and discussion centered around "this is America, we believe in second chances", and "he's served his time". The Eagles PR department did nothing for that narrative; it was set by the ESPNs and SIs of this world.

56
by JasonK :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:03pm

The Giants "rehabilitating" Kerry Collins might be a better comparison point than Vick. While Kerry's problems (alcoholism, alleged racist comments) weren't criminal, the Giants' PR set up a similar story about giving a guy a second (actually third) chance, talking to Joe Paterno and getting him to say positive things about Kerry's character, etc.

74
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:41pm

Yeah, it's all textbook PR spin methods. Plus, then, if things by some miracle work out, the team gets plenty of PR boosts from it, too. With Vick and the Eagles, remember, they got the Humane Society on board, too, and I don't doubt in a few years if Vick's still working for them, the Eagles will look pretty good.

The only question is whether or not teams think that Roethlisberger is worth the asking price, plus the headache of dealing with the PR storm. The storm's not that bad - it's actually probably less than Vick, since Vick was a convicted felon. It was surprisingly mild for Pacman Jones.

61
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:15pm

depends on the team, depends on the city. For instance, for San Fran, acquiring someone like Big Ben would be so antithetical to the nature of Singletary that his head may explode.

Absolutely true. I think it depends more on the team than the city. Controlling media in a city is easy. But the team has to be willing to accept the huge headache that managing that PR storm would be.

I don't think it'd be impossible, or even hard, and I certainly think it'd be worth it. The Eagles did it for Vick, the Cowboys did it for Jones. Roethlisberger's more valuable than both of them.

Its also important to note that the PR guy doesn't have the power to establish discourse, nor do the fans. Discourse parameters are established by the media.

Oh my God, do I disagree. This isn't politics. This is entertainment. The powerful media only cares for about a week. Once that's gone, then all you do is contact guys in the local media, ask if they want an exclusive on how Ben's rehabilitiation is going and hint about a continued good working relationship with the team, and poof, you've got your fluff piece. Run those a few times a month and you're golden.

and discussion centered around "this is America, we believe in second chances", and "he's served his time".

Hardly! The media furor around Vick was evenly split, if not against the Eagles for a while. The "second chances" crap was all spewed out by the Eagles media and Philly beat writers. There are plenty of media members who still seriously dislike Vick still playing at all.

64
by Martinez (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:21pm

You clearly have no idea how media works regardless of how much you disagree.

You also assume that Vick only was a dog fighter. He also had the Ron Mexico scandal, flicked off the fans, and was caught with illegal drugs. Many

70
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:32pm

Yes, I clearly have no idea how the media works. Especially because how I suggested it works is exactly how it actually worked multiple times in the past.

Whereas how everyone else is suggesting how it would work is how it never worked, anywhere. Hell, even the Bengals reacquired Chris Henry after a while and made it look good.

You also assume that Vick only was a dog fighter. He also had the Ron Mexico scandal, flicked off the fans, and was caught with illegal drugs. Many

Right... and absolutely nothing bad happened in Philly. Which is why people believed the spin that the Eagles media was putting on it. And why, in general, the Eagles fans don't care. And if Vick had been caught doing stupid things in Philly, the Eagles would've dumped him, and the players would've been encouraged to say things like "we reached out to him, but he just didn't respond" and people would've rapidly moved on.

57
by Harris :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:07pm

That only works if 1) the majority of fans really are neutral or at least willing to forgive and 2) the opposition shoots itself in the foot. It was a lot easier for the Eagles to claim Vick was a product of an environment that didn't see a problem with dog fighting. There aren't a whole lot of environments that encourage sexual assault. At least not openly. Roethelisberger can't credibly say, "I didn't think I was doing anything wrong because, where I come from, I wasn't doing anything wrong." Plus, plenty of fans in Philadelphia were willing to at least reserve judgment on Vick because he'd suffered a pretty steep fall from grace. Six games is a minor irritant compared with going bankrupt and spending a year in federal prison.

And Roethelisberger's new team won't have the advantage of squaring off against PETA. Fan opposition to PETA probably did more to improve Vick's standing than any mealy-mouthed statement from an unctuous PR flack.

In the long-term you're probably right if said hypothetical team wins a lot and fast then most people will get over it. But Vick has a relatively low-profile as a backup, Roethelisberger would be the face of the franchise and that's altogether different. You're assuming he skates so long as there are no more felony allegations. My guess is that your carefully crafted puffery falls apart the first time he's spotted at a local bar.

Hail Hydra!

69
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:26pm

Roethelisberger can't credibly say, "I didn't think I was doing anything wrong because, where I come from, I wasn't doing anything wrong."

You don't say it like that, no. But it's a very similar argument. If you think there aren't environments that encourage sexual assault against intoxicated women, you've never been to college. Note please that I'm not in any way suggesting those actions are anything other but the people involved's fault.

I'm just saying that the bull$#!+ argument that Vick pulled regarding "where I came from, I wasn't doing anything wrong" is just as stupid as "oh, everyone does that in college, it's not that big a deal." It's all spin, and it's easy to manage that. You have Roethlisberger dump a ton of money to women's rights, speak against sexual assault on campuses for a while, etc.

You're assuming he skates so long as there are no more felony allegations. My guess is that your carefully crafted puffery falls apart the first time he's spotted at a local bar.

Right, and then the team dumps him. See, Cowboys and Adam Jones, and then the team says "we dedicated a lot of resources to Ben, but..." and everyone pats Team X on the back and moves forward.

The puffery regarding Vick only worked because Vick stayed out of trouble. Seriously, the worst anyone got regarding Vick all of last year was that he had a drink in some bar. This is as opposed to Pacman Jones, and that's why the Cowboys dumped him.

78
by Harris :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 5:34pm

And Vick and Jones were both free agents so there was no opportunity cost. The Steelers want a top 10 pick. Sign a guy with Roethlisberger's history and throw away a top 10 pick if he turns out to be an asshole? I don't know if even Belichik could pull that off.

In any event, both Jones and Vick could stand up and say "I did it, I was wrong, I'm sorry and I won't do it again." (Or in Jones' case, "Pac be makin' dem azzcakes go crackalacka. He be straight sorry fo' dat, on da real ta real. He ain't gon' drank no mo'. OH, HE AIN'T GON' DRANK. Chu chu.") Roethlisberger can't stand up and say that and without that act of contrition, I just don't think the PR works.

Hail Hydra!

82
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 5:46pm

You may want to rethink that post, considering that Jones was not, in fact, a free agent. The Cowboys traded for him.

Yes, the Steelers want more, but Roethlisberger is worth probably an order of magnitude more than Jones.

Roethlisberger can't stand up and say that

Sure he can. He has to be a little careful as to how he words it, due to legal issues, but so did Jones. God, do I wish contrition were easier to fake, but it's so, so easy - especially for the guys that are really pieces of trash.

86
by Harris :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 6:21pm

You're right, but I still say a 4th round pick for a CB is not the same thing as a top 10 pick for a QB.

Obviously, he's going to stand up and say something. I just don't see how it carries any weight. He'll sound like Mark McGuire, "I'm sorry, but I can't tell you what I did." Nobody bought that crap.

Hail Hydra!

106
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 9:53pm

I dunno, they seem pretty similar. Especially because Jones was out of the game for a full year already.

Nobody bought that crap because McGuire was already out of the sport and no one had a reason to like him anymore. He also denied things, which is totally different than what Roethlisberger would have to do. It's like Vick - if Vick wasn't signed to the Eagles, when he came out of prison, the number of Eagles fans who said that Vick deserves a second chance would be tiny. But he's on their team, so yeah, okay, maybe he's changed now. No, most likely, he's not, he's almost certainly still a dick.

But again, it's not about Roethlisberger. It's about the team. People can think Roethlisberger's a dick all they want so long as they think that the team would still have a zero-tolerance policy to any of the actions Roethlisberger committed in the past.

167
by RickD :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 3:46pm

Roethlisberger is, right now, a much better QB than Vick. Vick has yet to show in his post-prison days that he can be an effective starting QB in the NFL. Roethlisberger has shown that he can lead a high-powered passing attack and win big games against anybody on any stage. He's still only 14 months from winning a Super Bowl!

From a football standpoint, it's hard to see why anybody would be interested in Vick. At his best he wasn't a great passer and, given that he turns 30 in June, it's hard to see him regaining his form as a dangerous runner.

27
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:51pm

I think you're way overstating the PR baggage. I mean, just dramatically overstating it. PR is all about spin - so long as there's a spinnable angle, it's not a problem. The thing to realize is that you're not trying to convince 'undecided' people, like in politics. You're just trying to put on a good face - the fans are already inclined to forgive you (they primarily just want football, and would prefer that the players don't have actual lives anyway) so if it's even a plausible spin, you're golden.

Important note: I'm not saying that Roethlisberger's actions were spinnable. I'm saying the acquisition of Roethlisberger is spinnable. You say "we believe in second chances," and "we've talked to Ben, and we're beginning a program to set him down the right track," and "Ben knows that we have a zero-tolerance policy for anything like this in the future."

Then, when people ask questions like "how can you have a guy suspected of rape on your team" you answer and say "well, Ben didn't have the right support structure in Pittsburgh; he wasn't focused on the team, he was too distracted by the rock-star image that had developed in Pittsburgh around him. Here, we've got good, solid mentors and we're making sure that his energies are focused towards winning a Super Bowl."

No matter what, any team that would acquire Roethlisberger is guaranteed to be able to spin themselves as better than the Steelers. If his actions improve, then the Steelers are a group of hoodlums and the new team is straight-laced. If something goes wrong, you cut/trade Roethlisberger immediately and you still look better because you did something right away, whereas the Steelers had him for quite a while with problems.

But it doesn't matter. I don't believe the Steelers are even interested in trading Roethlisberger at all. If they are, any of the other teams should jump on it, almost regardless of what the asking price is. This opportunity is just way too rare.

34
by dryheat :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:09pm

Wait...one needs the "right support structure" and no "distractions" and the "right mentors" to not be a sexual predator?

There's no way you can spin that trade as a "good guy, wrong environment" situation. Far better to say, "Hey, we need a quarterback, Ben is a proven winner, and it only cost us a fifth round pick to see if he's a good fit." If you own a team with attendance problems and long-subpar QB play, maybe the fans won't care much about the other stuff...a team like Oakland, perhaps.

41
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:28pm

Wait...one needs the "right support structure" and no "distractions" and the "right mentors" to not be a sexual predator?

Yup. If Roethlisberger is squeaky clean at his new team, and was a disaster at his old team, that must be true, right? He's just a kid with problems who got no help at his previous team, surrounded by thugs and miscreants who didn't steer him on the right path.

It's simple. You're trying to say, quietly and indirectly (of course!), that the Steelers and Pittsburgh were the problem. American popular society is basically built on the idea of passing the blame around nowadays, and the Steelers have already set themselves up for this simply because they already had Holmes on the team and Roethlisberger had prior problems.

Look, these are the exact same arguments that people gave regarding Vick - that he was trapped and had fallen in with the wrong people. People will buy it, but only if Roethlisberger's actions actually change.

There's no way you can spin that trade as a "good guy, wrong environment" situation.

No, that's not what you're trying to say, and you would never say "he's a good kid" with Roethlisberger if you acquired him. You're trying to say "troubled kid, we're helping him through these tough times to amend for his previous behavior and be a valued member of the community."

67
by Martinez (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:24pm

You clearly don't know anything about the Rooney family. They sent Santonio Holmes packing and they can send Ben packing too. The owner is into family values and a clean image and he'd easily part ways with Big Ben. No one player is bigger than the team or the game itself. But you can keep going with your theories if it makes you feel big.

100
by Xeynon (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 8:19pm

Then, when people ask questions like "how can you have a guy suspected of rape on your team" you answer and say "well, Ben didn't have the right support structure in Pittsburgh; he wasn't focused on the team, he was too distracted by the rock-star image that had developed in Pittsburgh around him. Here, we've got good, solid mentors and we're making sure that his energies are focused towards winning a Super Bowl."

So the public is going to buy that the Steelers, one of the most family-oriented, disciplined, and tight-knit organizations in the NFL, wasn't able to provide a firm support structure for Roethlisberger, but a sad sack franchise like Buffalo or a basket case like Oakland will be able to? People are dumb, but I'm not sure they're that dumb. Furthermore, they'll buy the argument that a grown man needs a "support structure" to not rape women? Again, I'm skeptical.

I'm not saying Roethlisberger won't have a successful second act if he's traded. He's a good player and will help any team he goes to produce on the field, and that's what fans care for more than anything. But I don't think the PR problem trading for him would create is an insignificant one.

104
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 9:47pm

Yup, they'll believe it. Because the people they're selling it to are their fans. And guess what? They already very likely dislike the Steelers. They already like the team. All they need is something to tell them that their favorite franchise actually cares about the fact that the guy they signed was accused of sexual assault.

Will they convince the national media? Hell no. First, you can't convince the national media of anything - they have an opinion when something happens, and they rarely if ever change it. Just like the national media didn't buy the fact that the Cowboys would be able to help Pacman Jones. Just like several members of the national media don't buy the fact that Vick's changed at all. But the only people they need to convince are the fans. And the Cowboys fans and Eagles fans bought it almost right away.

Furthermore, they'll buy the argument that a grown man needs a "support structure" to not rape women?

They bought the argument that a grown man needs a support structure/mentors to not torture dogs and not order hits on people. It's probably actually an easier argument for Roethlisberger, simply because his actions are so close to college frat boys and easy for large numbers of people to relate to. That was incredibly disturbing for me to write, but probably true.

It also depends on what you mean by "buy." Do they believe that the athlete means it? Yeah, I doubt it. But the fact that the athlete is at least being forced to confront his actions as wrong is easily enough for most fans.

126
by Xeynon (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 2:41am

Pat, I suppose you're just more cynical than I am (which is some feat, BTW). I am one Eagles fan who doesn't like for a second that they signed Michael Vick - the only reason I was able to swallow my disgust was frankly that Vick had gone bankrupt and spent time in prison, and I do think there's something to the argument that if we really believe people can change a guy like Vick who's paid his debt to society deserves a second chance. I don't think I'd be able to root for someone I felt had committed a crime and gotten away with it. Thankfully that's never happened with any of my favorite teams, other than with very minor crimes (marijuana possession and the like), but did go from being indifferent to the Ravens before 2000, to actively rooting against them after the Ray Lewis case. Roethlisberger is another guy I'll never root for again, because even if he's not a rapist, he's clearly a first-rate asshole.

I do think that, if Roethlisberger produced on the field and didn't get into any more trouble, the stink of acquiring him would dissipate somewhat. But I don't know that it would entirely go away.

30
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 2:58pm

I know there's a new regime in Seattle, but the Seahawks trading for Roethlisberger would be the stupidest PR move any football team has ever made. Seahawks fans already hated the guy more than anyone else. This scandal has obviously not helped.

52
by Bobman :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:58pm

That would be awesome. Like that big Willie McGinnest and Tom Brady for Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison trade that happened a few years ago, causing both fan bases to self-immolate.

103
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 9:27pm

Thats just like how the Vikings fans hate Brett Favre....oh wait.

32
by JCRODRIGUEZ (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:07pm

Wow...just...wow...if the six game suspension is fully enforced, then I will DEMAND that every single wife/girlfriend beater to be equally treated...the NFL stepped into a very dangerous role, passing on morality judgements on the behaviour of the players...I am not Ben's advocate, but really, he just did what the society keeps feeding to all of us 24/7...so, it can not be surprise that a young, single, successful and millionaire QB thought that he could get every chick in town and be a douche, but to unload all the anger towards Ben is silly...lets just check out the TV commercials during the Draft, and every single NFL transmission...the endorsers of the morality judges promote whatever the NFL is now punishing...cheesus...I am not following the NFL looking for role models, I just want good entertainment...

35
by dryheat :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:12pm

If I was accused of half the things Ben is, with or without a conviction, I wouldn't be suspended, I'd be fired.

Ben's not accused of domestic violence or assault. He's been accused, multiple times, of sexual crimes of various seriousness -- there's really no moral judgements that the NFL is making.

I see nothing wrong about the way he's being treated, unless maybe it's not severe enough. The NFL should hold its employees to a high standard.

83
by TMI (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 5:51pm

Exactly.

If I admitted to having "relations" with an underage drunk girl in the bathroom of a nightclub, while at the same time declaring that it was consensual while she said it was rape.....& my company's name was mentioned in the press....I would not be given the luxury of waiting for criminal charges to be filed. I would be fired the very next day.

Whether his conduct was criminal or not, what he admits to doing is well beyond what is "acceptable behavior" in most communities.

168
by RickD :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 3:48pm

Ding ding ding!

88
by JCRODRIGUEZ (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 6:26pm

OK, whatever, but from here on out this is the standard for suspects, we will need to see increased levels of punishments for accused and, obviously, convicted players.

Just don't tell me that guys with that behaviour does not belong to the NFL, the league would be out of employees in a hurry.

I do not care what any of the players do on their lives, as long as they do not break the law, let them be whatever WE WANT THEM TO BE...and WE WOULD LIKE TO BE AS WELL...

"I want to be rich, famous, successful and young...to bring world peace"...please, this society is not built that way, and asking people to behave otherwise is just not right.

I do not admire Big Ben...but I wish him well...if he gets convicted, screw him, let him pay the price...

In football news...I would not trade him unless there is a king's ransom on the table...this year's 1st round (top 6) and NEXT years first and second...or something...this team is not build to miss two years bringing along a rookie...

105
by t.d. :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 9:51pm

It sounds like he did break the law. He isn't going to be convicted, but that doesn't mean he didn't break the law. Furthermore, you can DEMAND whatever you want, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Goodell to change how he runs things.

37
by GregQ (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:17pm

I am surprised that there is not more protection from what looks to be arbitrary punishment by the commissioner.

39
by SFC B (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:20pm

So, basically, the smartest thing for a team playing the Steelers to do would be flood the hotel where the Steelers are playing with attractive coeds from the local university and just wait for Roethlisberger to do something stupid?

Hell, at this point he doesn't need to do anything stupid, he just needs to be accused of doing something stupid.

59
by Sophandros :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:14pm

"Hell, at this point he doesn't need to do anything stupid, he just needs to be accused of doing something stupid"

So a 28 year old man hanging out in a college bar, getting a 20 year old (underage in GA) drunk, taking her to the men's room, having one of his bodyguards block the door so her friends can't help her and she can't get out, having non-consensual sex with the underage person whom he just got drunk in said bathroom, and walking down the hallway with his penis hanging out is NOT doing something stupid in your book?

Really?

-------------
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

68
by SFC B (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:25pm

I'm sorry. You must have been reading a different post where I was defending his actions.

76
by Sophandros :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:57pm

You said that he only has to be accused of doing something stupid in order to be suspended. I'm saying that he actually DID something stupid.

-------------
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

89
by dbostedo :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 6:30pm

He was talking about some theoretical future event - not the recent one. So, BECAUSE of the recent events, he NOW only has to be accused. He never said anything about Roethlisberger's recent events only being accusations or not being stupid.

The phrase "at this point" was key there.

91
by tuluse :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 6:48pm

21 is the national drinking age in the US. So he doesn't even have ignorance as a defense.

169
by RickD :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 3:50pm

That's called "losing the presumption of innocence".

Everybody has to deal with that. It's a fact of life.

42
by ChicagoRaider :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:29pm

NFL players need to think about the positions they put themselves into. Like it or not, what one player does reflects not only on him, but his teammates and the league.

So you don't have to believe that Ben did or did not do what he was accused of. All you have to really believe is that he should never have gotten into a position where it was a he-said she-said about what happened in that bathroom. Period. This is not his first brush with negative publicity, and the motorcycle accident pretty much indicates that he is perfectly capable of acting without thinking.

If you act without thinking repeatedly in the NFL, you should get suspended. The NFL does not, and should not, evaluate their players only on the gridiron.

With a rape conviction of course, the NFL would not have to worry about anything. He would not be seeing the outside of a jail cell until he was past coming back to the NFL. So the idea that he was not convicted doesn't really carry much weight. The NFL doesn't have to worry about him being convicted so much. Remember Michael Vick?

46
by wr (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:49pm

"So you don't have to believe that Ben did or did not do what he was accused of. All you have to really believe is that he should never have gotten into a position where it was a he-said she-said about what happened in that bathroom. Period. This is not his first brush with negative publicity, and the motorcycle accident pretty much indicates that he is perfectly capable of acting without thinking. "

I think that pretty much hits the nail on the head. If he continues to act without thinking, he's got a good chance to wind up either permanently
disabled via accident, or getting to know Bubba really, really well. While
I think 6 games is a bit harsh without charges/conviction, I also think he
needed/deserved a warning shot across the bow. If he gets the messages,
all will be well. If not, well, he'd been warned.

94
by johonny (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 7:08pm

It only really matters if fans really cared. But there is no evidence fans really give a crap about this at all. They talk a good game but buy the jerseys and show up for the games anyways. Fans root for all kinds of bad people IF they are on their team. The number one thing that correlates with making money in sports is winning or losing. If you build a winner full of criminals, fans come. You make money. Sports teams started these policies because they thought cleaning up their image would help them sell their product. But it didn't change anything. Players in general commit less crimes then males of the same social demographic. But fans view players as if they are more likely to be criminals! In no way has the personal conduct policies helped. They instead it turned what use to be small local stories into national press stories. They've been great for 24/7 sports news TV and radio, but have done nothing to help the image of sports leagues. The only benefit I've seen from these personal conduct policies is the ability of franchises to recoup money from players they have no use for.

96
by tuluse :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 7:12pm

But there is no evidence fans really give a crap about this at all.

Tell that to the NBA. This type of shift in perceptions is very difficult to gauge or combat, but once it happens you are stuck showing playoff games on basic cable.

154
by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 12:08pm

when did the NBA ever show playoff games on network tv? There championship series games were shown on tape delay more than 30 years ago. Now the championship games are shown in Primetime.

146
by dryheat :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 9:10am

I've got three close friends who are Steelers diehards. Two of them want Roethlisberger gone, even if it's via outright release. One went as far as to write a very strongly worded letter to Rooney.

I don't think they're alone. It's hard to be a fan of a team led by a man whom you loathe.

45
by Justin Zeth :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:46pm

The NFL in no way needs the blessing of a court of law to enforce its own conduct policy.

The NFL must protect its business interests by punishing employees who tarnish its image.

The NFL conducts thorough investigations OF ITS OWN--and is much more competent at it than the state of Georgia--before doing anything.

There is a lot of evidence, proof really, some of which is out there to read about, some of which isn't, that Ben Roethlisberger is in fact a sexual predator, and that what happened in Georgia was his pattern when he went out, and bound to turn bad sooner or later.

Besides that, the man is just a colossal asshole even by the standards of professional athletes. Pittsburgh is neck deep in stories of what a prick he is. The body of evidence suggests this is just a man out of control. The NFL is both justified and wise to draw the line with him.

50
by Justin Zeth :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 3:52pm

All of that said, Pat is right. Roethlisberger is a championship-caliber quarterback, and if he can be had even for the Jay Cutler price, many teams should pounce on that, hire a good PR firm, and roll the dice they can keep him under control. It's possible he could be had for less. The feel I get from the Steelers is they would happily trade him for the right price--it's just no one knows what the right price is. Might be just a first round pick; might be two firsts, a third and a firstborn child. We just don't know.

The Steelers made an offer to the Rams that the Rams rejected; it was probably Roethlisberger straight up for the #1 pick, if I had to guess. I wouldn't take that deal if I were the Rams, but I would make a deal happen yesterday if I were, say, the Cardinals. Leinart, this year's second and next year's first for Roethlisberger? Done. I wouldn't be interested in pissing away the prime of one of the great receivers to play the sport with bad quarterbacks.

54
by Bobman :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:01pm

Andre Johnson just added you to his Christmas card list for that fial sentiment.

62
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:15pm

Or even more so: Steve Smith (the original)

60
by dryheat :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:14pm

If I'm a GM I'm not offering any more that a 3rd rounder for a sexual predator making a boatload of money who's going to miss at least 1/4 the season, and is probably another incident away from a year's suspension, and that I know the Steelers are semi-desparate to rid themselves of.

107
by t.d. :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 9:57pm

Furthermore, long before it became clear what an asshole the dude was, it was already clear that he was destined for a short career.

125
by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 2:34am

Good call on separating Leinhart and Roethlisberger.

53
by Eddo :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:00pm

"The NFL conducts thorough investigations OF ITS OWN--and is much more competent at it than the state of Georgia--before doing anything."

This is a huge point, that the "he was only accused" crowd is ignoring. Does anyone doubt that the league has access to some of the best private investigators in the country to look into the Roethlisberger matter? And that the burden of proof for PIs is nowhere near as high as it is for a criminal investigation?

85
by Noah of Arkadia :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 6:01pm

I'm sure the NFL could hire the best private investigators, if they wanted to. But what do they want? Do they really care about truth and justice? Do they care if Ben is innocent or guilty? Or do they only care about the public perception of what happened? Same applies to the Steelers.

Another team, on the other hand, might care more about the facts when weighing a trade.

98
by Eddo :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 8:06pm

Yeah, you're probably right. I meant that more as a rebuttal to the "all anyone has to do is convince two women to accuse Peyton Manning of rape" crowd. The NFL has resources to determine if mere accusations are true or fabricated.

99
by tuluse :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 8:08pm

What would be better for PR? Telling everyone that the chick is a limelight seeking liar, or suspending Ben basically admitting he assaulted her?

They have a vested interest in Ben being innocent really.

170
by RickD :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 4:04pm

They have a vested interested in knowing what the truth is. They cannot make a bargain with reality.

The NFL is responding to the damage that Roethlisberger has done to the image of their league, just as they have done with Pacman Jones, Mike Vick, and Donte Stallworth. They are primarily interested in the PR angle. And from that angle, Roethlisberger has a seriously tarnished image.

71
by Daniel2772 (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:33pm

I take from your comments that you feel the investigation conducted by the State of Georgia was conducted in a less than competent manner. Why? From what I have read it was pretty exhaustive. I understand that the local Milledgeville Police Department may not have acted in the most professional manner, but the investigation by the state police was complete. That being said, the chances of getting a conviction in this case hinged on the willingness of the accuser to press forward with testifying. When the woman expressed a unwillingness to testify the chances of being able to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt became nearly nil. I doubt the NFL's private investigation turned up any more information than the District Attorney's, but Commissioner Goodell can punish Roethelisberger without having to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Smoking Gun

58
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:13pm

If I had a powerfull position in the NFLPA I'd make sure that some sort of guideline for suspensions was a part of the next agreement. At this point suspensions are random. What if I accuse Philip Rivers of murder, do you suspend him based on what a crazy fan (me) says, or let him play because the legal system found him innocent?

PR-suspension? I dont buy it - a rapist gets suspended from his job for six weeks and everything is OK? It's like saying: "We're not completely sure you commited the murder, so instead of tossing you in the chair, so we'll put you 40 years in prison.

Besides, in what world does a 2-time super bowl winning QB ever have to use force to get laid?! The guy is a famous athlete millionaire in his 20ies for gods sake!

65
by Justin Zeth :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:22pm

If I had a powerfull position in the NFLPA I'd make sure that some sort of guideline for suspensions was a part of the next agreement.

I suspect you're not too familiar with how collective bargaining really works. The NFLPA simply does not have the wherewithal, or for that matter the time, to try to press a non-financial issue.

80
by jimbohead :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 5:41pm

This actually is a huge issue. All appeals of suspensions handed out by goodell are heard by goodell. Compare that to baseball, where an independent 3rd party hears appeals, a right which was strenuously fought for the last time the MLB had a labor renegotiation. And it is a financial one as well. If you're suspended 6 games, not only do you lose 6 months base salary, but you also lose any reasonable chance of hitting the bonus clauses in your contract (pro bowl, yards, games started, etc).

84
by roguerouge :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 5:57pm

"Besides, in what world does a 2-time super bowl winning QB ever have to use force to get laid?!"

In a world where the person likes his sex forced more than he likes just consensual sex, actually. Some people get off on pain or off feeling powerful. I'm not sure why this concept that some people with power get off on feeling powerful is difficult to understand really.

171
by RickD :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 4:06pm

Indeed. The pursuit of a drunken 20-year old into a bathroom at a club/bar/restaurant has little to do with ordinary sexual attraction. It's he-man narcissism.

93
by tuluse :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 7:05pm

What you fail to realize is that despite all appearances, Big Ben's job is not to play football. His job is to entertain. Most people are not entertained by rape charges, thus he is hurting the NFL. Thus, he is suspended.

63
by drobviousso :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:17pm

Show Trials: Good for Soviet Union. Good for NFL. Good for Talk Radio Blowhards. Bad for people that care more about reading about the game on the field.

EDIT: and thanks FO, for your general hands off policy about this kind of crap. This has on the field news angles like missing games, trade rumors, etc, and I'd expect to see that here, but I'm glad the moralizing and such is left to the many, many other outlets that do that for a living.

73
by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:40pm

Our policy -- at least, my policy, and I'm the one who links most of the XPs -- is that we link off-the-field stuff when it directly affects what's going to happen on the field of play. So I won't link the story on a player's DUI, but if the player gets suspended for that DUI, I'll link the latter story.

Also, a quick note on this thread before it gets too out of control. Obviously, because of the nature of this story, I need to relax our rules about not discussing politics. However, the rules about not launching ad hominem attacks on other posters still stands. Please abide as such. Thanks!

92
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 6:57pm

Drawing parallels between the actions of a state with literal life and death power, and the actons of a business with the power to employ those the business believes best provide long term profit, is silly. Drawing parallels between people who were murdered for being seen as potential rivals for political power, and a rich football player who will miss six games, because a woman and her friends filed a police report which accused the football player of rape, is really silly, and perhaps offensive, in that it trivializes the murders.

114
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 11:33pm

And your absurd post isn't offensive because it trivializes rape?

147
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 9:19am

No, Rich, my post has not trivialized rape. Your implication is absurd.

157
by Eddo :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 12:30pm

Will and I have disagreed in the past, but I don't see him trivializing rape. If anything, I guess you could infer than he feels murder is worse than rape, and while rape is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing, I'm in the camp that murder is indeed worse. Ruining a life is terrible; taking a life is even more terrible.

163
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 2:49pm

Well, I appreciate the defense against the charge that I trivilized rape, but my post had nothing to do with how awful rape was compared to murder. It had to with drawing a parallel between a hugely wealthy employee's treatment at the hands of his employer, after a woman filed a police report alleging rape, and a person being forced to, under threat of death and imprisonment, for the person and/or the person's family, from a totalitarian government, partcipate in a sham trial,with wholly concocted accusations, when the totalitarian government perceives the person as being a rival for power.

148
by drobviousso :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 10:07am

Show trials aren't about the sentence, they are about the media circus, the public humiliation and apology (which act to enshrine authorities POV as the only legal or rational POV), and the concentration of power within people not laws. They are about the environment they create.

Drawing parallels, even when the stakes are different, is kind of what most analysis of any kind is like is all about. If that offends you, well, I don't really care. You'll live. I'll live. The sun will still rise tomorrow. Data will continue to pass through tubes. Rape and murder will still be among the worst crimes out there.

I realize at this point I'm violating my own rules about fighting on the internet, and should have held my tongue with the first part of my post. I'm sure we'll have on the field type stuff to talk about in about 12 hours anyway.

152
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 11:46am

There is irony in pointing out to someone who has chosen the tag "obviousso" that one of the key elements of making a show trial a show trial is the fact that the accused is compelled under penalty of imprisonment or death to participate in them.

Yes, I understand that you don't care that your drawing of a parallel between a rich guy losing as much as about 40%, and likely only 25% of his yearly pay, when his employer decides that the guy's behavior is bad for business, and people who were compelled under penalty of imprisonment or death, to themselves and family, to apologize for actions, for which there was not a shred of evidence, might be offensive to the memories of the murdered. You've made that, well, obvious.

72
by rk (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:38pm

It seems to me that Ray Lewis was in a similar situation when he allegedly murdered a man. He wasn't even suspended a game.

75
by Justin Zeth :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 4:52pm

That's because there was no evidence supporting that charge, and in all likelihood that's what the NFL's investigators came back and told them.

In Roethlisberger's case, there is plenty of evidence supporting the charge, and that's what the NFL's investigators came back and told them.

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by poboy :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 5:15pm

Also, that was under a different commissioner, with a different CBA, and different rules. Times change.

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by dbostedo :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 6:33pm

This, I think, is the more likely reason. I think if the Ray Lewis situation happened today, Goodell would have had a hearing and likely some suspension or reprimand.

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by TomKelso :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 7:54pm

After his conviction for obstructing justice -- by refusing to participate in the investigation -- Ray Lewis was indeed suspended and fined heavily by the league. As was permitted under the policies of the time, he appealed and was denied. The appeal was a monumental stupidity and a blot on the otherwise sterling personal and public reputation he has had since then.

I think that when Goodell took over, the current process of commissioner as Grand High Inquisitor -- judge, jury, and only possible route of appeal -- was installed. I may think that Roethlisberger is a pig, but this system stinks to high heaven and has since it was initiated.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 8:45pm

Most people are employed at will, and if their boss decides they are a pig, they can be fired without recourse. The probable rapist has a little more leverage because he has a union, and more importantly, he has a skill-set, playing NFL qb at a very high level, that has been identified in less than a dozen people on the planet. The treatment that he is getting is quite common in this country, and really is no big deal. The people who pay you money get to have a huge say, often complete say, as to what conditions they decide to do so. If Ol' Ben doesn't like it, he can implore his union to bargain harder on these matters, or he can start his own league. I'd wish him luck, if it were not for the fact that I think it highly likely that he is the sort of creep who gets most aroused when he rapes women. Given I am the sort of ridiculous moralist who finds rape to be extraordinarily offensive, I hope, if my suspicions are accurate, that he runs his Harley into a bridge abutment at ninety miles an hour.

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by Tim (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 10:45pm

"if it were not for the fact that I think it highly likely that he is the sort of creep who gets most aroused when he rapes women"

Way to throw completely unsubstantiated opinions out there, Will. You could at least take the time to read some of the case file (including accounts from neutral parties and Ben's entourage) before making accusations like this on public message boards.

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by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 11:36pm

The neutral parties are saying his off-duty cop bodyguards dragged the girl into the bathroom, and then barred anyone else from going in.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 7:30am

I don't think you know what the phrase "completely unsubstantiated" means.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 7:11pm

Pat is probably right that acquiring the probable rapist is spinnable, depending on the team. I mean, a team like the Vikings, if they didn't have a Zombie King at the position, would have to stay away, because they are seeking a half billion in stadium subsidies, and the one thing that thus needs to be avoided is adding motivation for non football-loving voters to oppose the project. Other teams, however, only need the guy to play well, and the thing can be easily spun.

The bigger issue is the probable rapist's future behavior. If the alleged victim's account is close to accurate, this guy likes to get loaded, get women loaded, and then pick one to rape. There is a lot of reason to think that a six game suspension is not going to sufficiently motivate a guy with those impulses to change. The recidivism rate among serial rapists, at least until they are pretty old, is substantial. I'd strongly consider making a contractual demand that the guy submit to frequent testing for any intoxicant, including booze, and tell the guy that I'm only willing to pay him as long as he stays sober. Even then, I'd be pretty nervous. There's a really good chance he isn't going to change, at least not before he goes to prison.

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by Xeynon (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 8:33pm

The bigger issue is the probable rapist's future behavior.

Indeed. Acquiring Roethlisberger now might be spinnable. Acquiring him, spinning it, then being the team in the crosshairs if/when he finds himself in another one of his "situations"? Not so much.

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by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 10:16pm

No, that part's fine too. You just say "we tried to help as much as we could, but Ben just was beyond our help, and we can't condone his actions" and toss him out. Again: Pacman Jones.

I think what Will was suggesting was that Ben's future behavior means that you wouldn't be acquiring him for very long. And that lowers his trade value, which is definitely true.

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by MC2 :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 10:18pm

I wouldn't even claim to know whether Roethlisberger is guilty of any of the things of which he's been accused, but I do find it amusing that so many people on these boards seem absolutely certain that the know the gospel truth, based on nothing more than third-hand information gleaned from various media sources whose interest in provide sensationalistic and titillating material leaves their credibility highly suspect. Clearly, no more information is needed to reach the obvious conclusion that Roethlisberger is clearly a serial rapist.

Of course, we also have the matter of the hypothetical NFL investigators and all the hypothetical evidence that they must have obtained against Roethlisberger. Never mind that they apparently failed to turn any of this iron-clad evidence over to the police. After all, who cares if there's any justice for the alleged victim, as long as the NFL has enough evidence to determine whether they've covered their butts in the PR department, right?

Oh, and of course, there's the fact that Roethlisberger himself has admitted that he has a "problem", so that obviously proves his guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt, right? I mean, if he had just denied the whole thing, everyone would have believed him, and his innocence would be clearly established, just like, for example, everyone believed Roger Clemens when he passionately denied using steroids. There's no way Ben is just trying to avoid more bad PR by acting contrite, even though he's actually innocent. No way.

And then there's the fact that "where there's smoke, there's bound to be fire", as everyone loves to say. I mean, the fact that he has been accused by "multiple" women (a whole two of 'em) clearly proves that he has to be a modern day Ted Bundy, right? It couldn't possibly be that the second girl heard about the lucrative judgment that the first girl is seeking in her civil suit and thought, "Boy, I'd like to get me some of that." Nah, no one could be that devious (unless, of course, they're a woman-hating serial rapist like Roethlisberger).

And finally, even on the off chance that the accuser is totally full of BS and he didn't actually do anything wrong, he still clearly deserves to be harshly punished, simply for being accused. After all, it's his fault, since he "put himself in a bad situation". It's just like how people who get mugged in bad neighborhoods deserve the mugging, since they put themselves in a bad situation by walking around in a bad neighborhood, right? Oddly enough, though, I haven't heard anyone who believes the woman's claims say that she deserved what happened, since she put herself in a bad situation. Oh well, I guess things are different for famous athletes. After all, they couldn't possibly be victims, right?

NOTE: For those who lack a sarcasm detector, I am NOT saying that the woman deserved to be raped (whether she was or not). I am merely pointing out that this kind of repulsive conclusion is the natural result of taking the twisted logic to its logical conclusion. In other words, if she's lying, then Ben is the victim, and it's a preposterous form of "blaming the victim" to say that he deserves to be slandered and suspended for "putting himself in a bad situation." That's the same sort of twisted logic used to make the disgusting claim that women who dress or act provocatively deserve to be raped, because "they're asking for it." That sickening claim is no different than saying that Roethlisberger deserves to be falsely accused, because he "put himself in a bad situation". He may have, but that in no way justifies treating an innocent man as if he were guilty. Of course, that assumes that he is, in fact, innocent, and as I said at the start of this post, I have no idea whether he is or not. But if he is, saying that he still deserves to be treated as if he's guilty is beyond outrageous.

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by t.d. :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 10:52pm

poor sex offender

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by MC2 :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 10:55pm

Brilliant rebuttal. I'm convinced.

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by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 2:43am

So, you'd be comfortable letting your daughter/sister/girlfriend/wife hang out with him in a bar?

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by MC2 :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 4:23am

Did I say that?

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by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 4:42am

No. Nor did you answer the question.

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by MC2 :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 4:46am

Because it is completely irrelevant to my claim that there is no logical basis for assuming that he's a rapist. Whether he's an asshole or not is beside the point. I'm not going to chase red herrings.

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by tuluse :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 11:02pm

Most people don't need to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt whether or not someone is guilty. In fact neither does the justice system, which only requires beyond a reasonable doubt, and civil cases are even less strict.

If you are somewhat sure someone you knew committed rape, even if you didn't have total proof, you would probably treat them differently, no?

If you ran a multi-billion dollar sports league that depended on PR to make money, and you were someone somewhat sure one of your employees committed rape, you would probably punish him, no?

If there were no proof at all, don't you think the league would side with Ben? Wouldn't it look better for them if Ben were innocent?

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by MC2 :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 11:41pm

The key phrase is "somewhat sure". As I stated earlier, I'm not at all sure. As is usually the case in these situations, I have no good reason to believe (or disbelieve) either Ben or his accuser. Furthermore, the one thing I do know is that the prosecutor decided that the evidence was insufficient to even file charges. Given that, I find it very hard to say that I'm at all "sure" that he did it (although I'm certainly not ruling out the possibility that he did).

As for the NFL wanting to side with Ben, they're just angry that one of their high-profile stars was caught having sex with a young woman in a public restroom. I don't think it matters much to them whether it was consensual or not.

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by GnomeChumpsky (not verified) :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 11:53pm

The standard for ethically filing charges is "beyond a reasonable doubt," which is the same standard for conviction (it's just the determination of the prosecutor). You shouldn't say insufficient to "even file charges" because it's the same standard as guilt.

Further, "beyond a reasonable doubt" in court is a very high standard. If it isn't met, it does not mean the person is innocent. See my above comment.

The situation was frightening, one man guards the door, another man takes an underage, drunken girl into a room, has sex with her, she sustains injuries and says she immediately says she was raped. How can you ever convict anyone of rape, if under those facts, you don't believe a woman was raped? If that happened at a party you went to and it wasn't a famous football star, you'd say that girl was raped.

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by MC2 :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 1:10am

The reason that I say "insufficient to even file charges" is because it obviously requires less compelling evidence to file charges than it does to actually secure a conviction. You seem to be claiming that prosecutors never even bother to file charges unless they're 100% certain of getting a conviction. That's clearly false.

The situation was frightening, one man guards the door, another man takes an underage, drunken girl into a room, has sex with her, she sustains injuries and says she immediately says she was raped. How can you ever convict anyone of rape, if under those facts, you don't believe a woman was raped?

If all those facts constitute indisputable proof (as you are clearly implying), then why weren't charges filed? It's not like rape is impossible to prove. Many people have been charged and convicted of rape. But in this case, no charges were even filed, so the evidence is insufficient to say that you believe a woman was raped, unless you're basing your belief solely on the types of "evidence" that I mocked in my original post.

If that happened at a party you went to and it wasn't a famous football star, you'd say that girl was raped.

If I were an eyewitness to such behavior, indeed I would. If, on the other hand, I was on the other side of the house and only learned about the incident via rumors, speculation and hearsay, I would be a lot more hesitant to jump to conclusions. Additionally, I don't believe that anyone posting on this thread was anywhere near that bar on the night in question. But that fact hasn't stopped 90% of them from casually talking about Roethlisberger's guilt as if it were as obvious as Al Davis's senility or TO's narcissism.

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by jimbohead :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 2:02am

Charges weren't filed for two reasons. First, the girl decided not to testify, which happens a lot with rape cases. We're talking about asking a sexually assaulted woman to describe the experience in detail, in front of complete strangers, then undergo cross-examination from a lawyer trying to make her out as a liar, money-grubber, or crazy woman. I could see how a lot of people would just rather move on and try to forget it happened.

Also, they had insufficient DNA evidence to link a perpetrator to the crime. There's a number of things that could cause that to happen, some of which would exonerate Ben, but that's not a conclusive "no guilt" statement, more just a "we can't prove using DNA that he penetrated her."

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by Xeynon (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 2:16am

The reason that I say "insufficient to even file charges" is because it obviously requires less compelling evidence to file charges than it does to actually secure a conviction. You seem to be claiming that prosecutors never even bother to file charges unless they're 100% certain of getting a conviction. That's clearly false.

The thing is, rape is an offense for which it's extremely difficult to convict a defendant if the victim is unwilling to testify, and many rape victims are (see Bryant, Kobe - in that case there was DNA evidence, the victim had bruises and other injuries consistent with sexual assault, etc. but as soon as she changed her mind about testifying (after a nice civil court payoff from Mr. Bryant), the case fell apart). All this being so, a DA is not going to file charges in a case in which is a conviction is a longshot, and in doing so drag the victim out into the limelight and subject her to all the psychological trauma that entails for victims of sexual assault, unless he has overwhelming evidence of guilt.

It's true that we don't know if Roethlisberger is technically a rapist or not. What we do know is that he's clearly a douchebag with very poor judgment (see in addition to his sex follies his adventures in helmetless motorcycle riding). who has exhibited a very troubling pattern of behavior toward women. You may be willing to give a guy like that the benefit of the doubt, but a lot of people aren't, and that's their very reasonable prerogative. As for the NFL, they have every right to suspend Roethlisberger for what most companies would unquestionably consider a fireable offense on the part of their employees.

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by MC2 :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 4:36am

You're right. It is hard to conclusively prove a rape charge, but it's also hard to conclusively disprove a rape charge, since it's usually a "he said/she said" situation, and people are naturally going to be sympathetic to the alleged victim more than to the alleged perpetrator. That's why it's important not to jump to conclusions based on rumors and speculation.

Unfortunately, most people view the presumption of innocence the same way they view freedom of speech. They like it in the abstract, but they quickly change their tune as soon as someone says something they disagree with.

As for the NFL having the right to suspend him, I never disputed that. Heck, as far as I'm concerned, they would be within their rights to suspend him for life, if they so chose. I'm a firm believer in the right to hire and fire at will. So I'm not disputing their right to suspend him. Rather, I'm questioning the wisdom of suspending him for almost half the season, for no other reason than being a "douchebag", as you put it. I think that sets an awfully dangerous precedent.

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by GnomeChumpsky (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 8:06am

1) Prosecutors are required by legal ethics to believe that they have sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in court.
2) When charges are filed, the overwhelming result is a plea or conviction. Statistics vary, but most prosecutor's offices have around an 80% conviction rate at trial and that's not even considering guilty pleas. The vast majority of people who are charged, are ultimately proven guilty or plead guilty.
3) The previous poster makes an excellent point about getting victims to testify. If the victim testified, she'd be grilled mercilessly about her drinking, and, if admissible (theoretically not, but an expensive attorney can work miracles), her sexual past. Further, once her name became public record, she would certainly receive death threats and harassment. What happened to the presumption of innocence for rape victims? The assumption is frequently that they are lying.

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by MC2 :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 11:13am

Of course, if you're going to accuse someone of a crime (especially a very serious one), you had better be prepared to be grilled by that person's attorney. What possible alternative would you suggest?

EDIT: Oh, and a big reason why there is such a high conviction rate is precisely because most people on juries, while they may pay lip service to the presumption of innocence, actually tend to assume that if a person isn't guilty, they wouldn't have been charged in the first place. That presumption of guilt is hard to overcome.

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by tuluse :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 8:07pm

Oh, and a big reason why there is such a high conviction rate is precisely because most people on juries, while they may pay lip service to the presumption of innocence, actually tend to assume that if a person isn't guilty, they wouldn't have been charged in the first place. That presumption of guilt is hard to overcome.

It's easy to claim things with no proof.

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by MC2 :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 11:44pm

Wow. You do realize that the whole point of my original post was that 90% of the people on this thread are claiming that Roethlisberger is a rapist, with no proof to support that claim, right?

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by tuluse :: Fri, 04/23/2010 - 1:10am

Again, making things up. No where close to 90% of the people who posted on this have said that he's guilty. Or guilty of rape. He is definitely guilty of providing alcohol to minors and being an douchebag in general.

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by MC2 :: Fri, 04/23/2010 - 1:19am

Obviously, 90% is an approximation. I'm not going to go through and count every post to come up with an exact percentage, but the number of people who have said or implied that he's guilty of rape has certainly been far greater than the number who either have said that he's innocent or (like me) have said that there's no way to know with any degree of certainty whether he's guilty or not.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 04/23/2010 - 9:41am

I don't know if it was your original post, but you did write...

"... but I do find it amusing that so many people on these boards seem absolutely certain that the know the gospel truth, ..."

...when actually very few people, if any, have stated , that they know the "gospel truth. You have disingenuously implied that knowing the "gospel truth" is the standard that must be employed in order for the employer to take wise disciplinary measures. When the business involved is the selling of irrational warm and fuzzy feelings, this certainly is not the case.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 04/23/2010 - 9:36am

I don't know if it was your original post, but you did write...

"... but I do find it amusing that so many people on these boards seem absolutely certain that the know the gospel truth, ..."

...when actually very few people, if any, have stated , that they know the "gospel truth. You have disingenuously implied that knowing the "gospel truth" is the standard that must be employed in order for the employer to take wise disciplinary measures. When the business involved is the selling of irrational warm and fuzzy feelings, this certainly is not the case.

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by GnomeChumpsky (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 9:51pm

Being grilled about one's alcohol consumption is inordinately prejudicial.

The high conviction rate is due to ethical filing decisions on the part of prosecutors; charges are not filed, unless prosecutors know they have sufficient proof. The standard of reasonable doubt is incredibly difficult to overcome and the presumption of innocence is taken very seriously by juries.

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by MC2 :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 11:38pm

You're seriously arguing that the amount of alcohol that someone consumed in a given night has no bearing on their ability to provide credible testimony about what happened that night? Seriously?

...charges are not filed, unless prosecutors know they have sufficient proof.

This is exactly what most jurors believe, which is the exact reason why they start with a presumption of guilt. That's the whole point I was trying to make. Didn't you read the post you were responding to?

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by GnomeChumpsky (not verified) :: Fri, 04/23/2010 - 5:52pm

I didn't say irrelevant, I said, inordinately prejudicial, meaning that it is often given more weight than it should be given. Just because someone was drinking, does not mean that they can be assaulted, robbed, or otherwise victimized, however, the common perception is that a drunk victim deserved what happened to them.

Also, Juries don't "know" that. I work closely with the criminal justice system and it is extremely difficult to overcome the presumption of innocence. Juries are skeptical and hold the State to an extremely high standard. I encourage you to verify what I'm telling you with a police officer, prosecutor, judge, or court reporter.

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by MC2 :: Fri, 04/23/2010 - 6:48pm

...the common perception is that a drunk victim deserved what happened to them.

First, this is just an assertion. I certainly don't believe this, and neither do most people I know. Second, what's your point? If you deny the defense the ability to question the accuser (or the eyewitnesses) as to how much they had to drink, you create a situation where the jury has no choice but to give full weight to testimony given by a person who was so drunk they could barely stand up. This is clearly preposterous.

...it is extremely difficult to overcome the presumption of innocence. Juries are skeptical and hold the State to an extremely high standard.

This is just wrong. In fact, several people on this thread, including you yourself, have said that charges are almost never filed unless there is overwhelming evidence of guilt. Furthermore, I have heard several former lawyers and even a couple of former judges say that most jurors automatically assume that if the defendant wasn't guilty, he wouldn't have been charged. Finally, the one time I served jury duty, several of my fellow jurors expressed the same belief.

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by GnomeChumpsky (not verified) :: Sat, 04/24/2010 - 12:16am

I would like to live wherever it is you do, because in my professional experience, juries are much more skeptical. Perhaps your defense attorneys aren't doing their due diligence in voir dire.

Secondly, I think you should refer to earlier posts at the origin of my comments about alcohol. My point was that there are plenty of reasons why a victim would not want to testify and why, despite being personally convinced of guilty, a prosecutor might not think that filing charges would be appropriate in the situation. I never said that the evidence should not be admissible. Further, juries do often give too much weight to evidence of alcohol consumption. I've seen victims blamed for horrifying injuries and women blamed for being raped because they had been drinking moderate amounts of alcohol.

The most important point here is that the decision not to Charge Ben Roethlisberger has little bearing of the likelihood that he raped a woman. I would not need proof beyond a reasonable doubt to in my personal life, believe that someone was a rapist and shun them as a result. If a man was found "not guilty" of child molesting, would you then let him baby sit your children alone with a firm conviction that they were "innocent" or would you look at the facts and make your own judgment?

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by MC2 :: Sat, 04/24/2010 - 8:34am

I would like to live wherever it is you do...

Ironically, I live in Georgia, not all that far from where the incident took place.

My point was that there are plenty of reasons why a victim would not want to testify and why, despite being personally convinced of guilty, a prosecutor might not think that filing charges would be appropriate in the situation.

And my point was that if you are going to accuse someone of committing a horrible crime (thus irreparably tarnishing that person's reputation in the eyes of many), you had better be prepared to provide testimony, even if it may be an uncomfortable thing to do. If you're not prepared to testify, then you shouldn't make the accusation in the first place.

If a man was found "not guilty" of child molesting, would you then let him baby sit your children alone with a firm conviction that they were "innocent" or would you look at the facts and make your own judgment?

This is beside the point. Roethlisberger was not found "not guilty", he wasn't even charged! Your protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, there is a major difference. I have no children, but hypothetically, if a person that I had never met before accused my babysitter of child molestation and the prosecutor declined to file charges on the grounds that there was a lack of evidence attesting to the babysitter's guilt, then the mere accusation, in and of itself, would not be sufficient to cause me to fire the babysitter. In other words, I would not automatically assume that he was guilty, simply because he was accused. Instead, I would try to talk to him and to anyone else who could shed some light on the situation before I made any decision. But to my knowledge, none of the posters on this thread have talked to Ben or to any of the eyewitnesses. Rather, many of them have simply assumed his guilt, figuring that "where there's smoke, there has to be fire", or some other such nonsense. That's what most people do, including most jurors (at least here in Georgia, anyway). But, at the risk of stating the obvious, just because most people do it doesn't make it right.

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by tuluse :: Sat, 04/24/2010 - 5:26pm

In other words, I would not automatically assume that he was guilty, simply because he was accused. Instead, I would try to talk to him and to anyone else who could shed some light on the situation before I made any decision.

That is exactly what the league did, and you seem to have a problem with their ultimate decision.

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by MC2 :: Sat, 04/24/2010 - 7:25pm

Actually, the main thing that I have been complaining about in this thread is not the league's decision, but rather the claims that have been made by many posters that Roethlisberger is obviously a rapist and should be shunned by any decent person.

As for the league's decision, I have stated repeatedly that I feel that they have the right to discipline him in whatever manner they see fit, up to and including a lifetime suspension. Having said that, I personally think that a one or two game suspension (or simply a large fine) would be plenty to demonstrate that the league does not condone Roethlisberger's actions. Unfortunately, Goodell's previous excessive punishments have basically painted him into a corner, where he must deal with each new case more harshly than the one before, or face charges of favoritism.

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by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 6:47am

The claims that Roethlisberger is a rapist are no more nor no less valid than any claim that he is not. Each must way the available evidence and draw his/her own conclusion.

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by MC2 :: Fri, 04/30/2010 - 12:56am

My point throughout this thread has been that the evidence that has been made public is so flimsy that trying to draw any conclusion (either guilty or innocent) from it is an exercise in futility. If you're really that determined to pass judgment, you might as well flip a coin: heads he's a rapist, tails she's a liar. Personally, I'd rather just admit that I don't know what happened that night, and I probably never will know. I highly doubt that you'll ever know either, but if it makes you feel better to pretend that you do know, then go right ahead.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 8:10am

Unfortunately, many people don't understand that that the presumption of innocence is a standard that is only due to the accused in the context of crimimal prosecution. Outside of that context, the legal standard most often is the preponderance of evidence. In this instance, we have the statement of the accused, the statements of witnesses as to the behavior of the probable rapist's entourage, and the fact that evidence has been destroyed, which in civil proceedings can often be used by juries to infer wrongdoing. We have previous accusations of similar wrongdoing, which also is allowable evidence in civil proceedings, and sometimes even in criminal trials.

I'd be willing to wager large sums of money that the alleged victim's account is far closer to the truth than the alleged perp's.

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by MC2 :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 11:07am

It's easy to make meaningless boasts about your willingness to make large wagers when you know that the bet will never be accepted, since no one can prove the truth one way or the other, which, ironically, was my original point.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 11:28am

It is meaningless to speak of "proving the truth", when it is not the standard employed. The only thing the NFL has to "prove" is that, in the opinion of the person hired to manage the league, it is in it's interest to suspend this guy, and that they are not violating the CBA it agreed to by doing so. Millions and millions of dollars are awarded yearly in this country without anything being "proven".

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by MC2 :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 6:21pm

I've never denied that the NFL is within their rights to impose this suspension. In fact, I mentioned in another post below that even if they suspended him for life, I wouldn't question their right to make that decision. What I question is the wisdom of dishing out a suspension that basically sets a precedent where the media will expect any player who acts like a jerk to be punished just as harshly as Roethlisberger. In fact, you can already see the precedent set by Goodell's earlier ridiculous suspensions. The media was calling for Ben's head, not so much because of what he had done, but rather because Goodell would look like a hypocrite if he didn't go for the jugular this time.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 04/23/2010 - 9:25am

When "being a jerk" entails a drunk 20 year old leaving a bathroom that has a player's bodyguard standing by the door, with the drunk 20 year old saying she was raped, yep, "being a jerk" will result in suspension. When "being a jerk" entails not tipping the cocktail waitress, then "being a jerk" won't mean anything.

Your rhetoric is disingenuous.

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by MC2 :: Fri, 04/23/2010 - 6:47pm

Actually, you're the one being disingenuous, since you know by "being a jerk", I wasn't referring to failing to tip a waitress. Nevertheless, the potential of a slippery slope is very real. For example, what about a player who makes comments that some people might consider offensive, not by attacking anyone, but merely by expressing his opinion about a controversial subject, such as abortion or gay marriage? Should these comments warrant a suspension? If you think this example is far-fetched, bear in mind that during the Michael Vick fiasco, some people actually suggested that Clinton Portis should be suspended simply for expressing the opinion that dog-fighting should be legal.

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by tuluse :: Fri, 04/23/2010 - 7:27pm

This actually happens. Not in the NFL, but a similar industry that makes it's business based on how people feel. Hollywood. You voice unpopular opinions, and suddenly you find a lot less opportunities open to you.

You're job as a player of the NFL is to entertain. Part of that is making sure you don't offend your fanbase. That's just life.

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by MC2 :: Fri, 04/23/2010 - 11:03pm

That's one reason I've always liked sports a lot more than Hollywood. In sports, how well you do is based on performance, not on politics. Unfortunately, thanks to guys like Goodell, that seems to be changing.

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by Dave0 :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 11:51pm

please continue. i am enjoying the histrionics.

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by Xeynon (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 2:59am

In other words, if she's lying, then Ben is the victim, and it's a preposterous form of "blaming the victim" to say that he deserves to be slandered and suspended for "putting himself in a bad situation."

Since she has, in addition to her word, multiple witnesses who confirm everything about her account to which they were privy (though obviously, they can't testify as to the alleged rape itself), and Ben has, well, his word that while sex happened, it wasn't rape, I'd say she's the one with more credibility as of right now. And since she declined to file civil charges and hasn't sought to cash in on this in any way (at least not yet), I find the "she's just another greedy gold-digger" explanation pretty dubious, not to mention offensive.

It's true that Roethlisberger's critics cannot definitevely call him a rapist, because that hasn't been proven in a court of law. But they're not slandering him by calling him a misogynistic asshole, because a.)that's not an opinion, not a factual question, and b.)it appears to be a pretty well-founded opinion at this point.

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by MC2 :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 4:42am

No matter how many names you call Roethlisberger, it still doesn't change the fact that there is very little tangible evidence to support the idea that he's guilty of the crimes that you continue to insinuate that he committed. Like it or not, being an asshole is not a crime, and if Goodell cared at all about the long-term future of the league (as opposed to his own public image), he wouldn't set a precedent whereby being an asshole was enough to get you suspended for almost half a season.

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by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 5:51am

“based on nothing more than third-hand information gleaned from various media sources whose interest in provide sensationalistic and titillating material leaves their credibility highly suspect. “

Or you can access the raw data yourself here.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2010/0415101roethlisberger1.h...

“It couldn't possibly be that the second girl heard about the lucrative judgment that the first girl is seeking in her civil suit and thought, "Boy, I'd like to get me some of that." Nah, no one could be that devious (unless, of course, they're a woman-hating serial rapist like Roethlisberger).”

Of course it could be, although there are marked differences in the two cases. In the first, the woman did not come forward for almost a year. In this case, the accuser came forward immediately and had multiple witnesses that support her description of events up to the point of the alleged assault. Certainly makes the latter seem more credible than the first.

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by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 5:56am

we get it....what happened was wrong...if you worried about a man like that on the streets then he should be in jail

If you don't want a player like that in the NFL then lets hope he gets suspended for life.

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by RickD :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 4:14pm

I don't see the police report as "third-hand information".

On the one hand we have the police report. On the other hand, we have Roethlisberger's defense of his actions, which thus far appears to be non-existent. He's pleading a nolo contendre in the court of public opinion.

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by MC2 :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 6:32pm

First-hand information would be if you actually saw what happened, i.e. if you were an eyewitness. Second-hand information would be if you actually talked to someone who was an eyewitness, so you could choose what questions to ask, whether to ask followups, etc. Third-hand information would be reading a summary of someone else's conversation with an eyewitness, e.g. an interview by the media or a police report.

Also, I explained in my original post why it would be a waste of time for Ben to strongly deny the allegations. No one would believe him anyway, and people would just add "liar" to the list of names they call him. This is one of the problems with this kind of rush to judgment. Once the public has decided someone is guilty, they rarely change their mind, no matter how passionately they deny it or how little evidence there is against them. Heck, some people still think the Duke lacrosse players are guilty.

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by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 2:14am

I didn't know high horses had internet access. That damned Apple can put the interwebs anywhere I guess.

I'll just chime in that I don't like the precedent that this sets. I don't like the idea of a company erasing 5 million or so dollars of debt to an employee on such shaky grounds. Why don't I just cancel my Steelers tickets for six games while I'm at it since I paid for them expecting a healthy future HOFer to be the starting qb.

Anyone stating that their company would fire them if such allegations were leveled against them is leaving out the part where they would immediately get a lawyer and file suit and most likely win that case.

141
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 7:47am

I think you are leaving out the part where the lawyer instructs the probable rapist as to the risks involved in subjecting himself to depositions under oath.

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by dryheat :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 9:07am

Likely win the case under what grounds? Unlawful firing? I don't have to be a convicted felon to be fired. All I have to do is make my employer look bad. A man closing in on 30 years old shouldn't be acting like a frat boy, hanging out in college bars preying on drunk women.

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by Daniel2772 (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 1:01pm

When Roethelisberger signed his contract he agreed to follow the rules as specified in the collective bargaining agreement which allows the commissioner to pretty much do whatever he wants in regards to the personal conduct policy. And the commissioner is the CEO of the league as hired by the owners, therefore you can assume that when he acts, he is doing so with the owner's understanding/blessing. When you bought your tickets you were paying for the right to attend the contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and another NFL team. It doesn't entitle you to any guarantees as to the quality of the performance or the makeup of the roster.

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by RickD :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 4:16pm

You might have a legal case if you wanted a refund for your season tickets. (Probably not, since I would guess that the Steelers included some kind of protective language when they sold you the tickets.)

You certainly would have my moral support. (Yeah, I know that's important to you.)

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by Xeynon (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 2:25am

I don't like the idea of a company erasing 5 million or so dollars of debt to an employee on such shaky grounds.

Since Roethlisberger's contract doubtless contains a Moral Turpitude clause (every standard contract does), and at the very least he's guilty of plying underaged women with alcohol (something for which I, and probably you, would have our contracts terminated), these are hardly shaky legal grounds for suspension or forfeiture of payment. Furthermore, the NFL has a collectively bargained suspension process, through which Roethlisberger has the (also collectively bargained) right to appeal his suspension if he so chooses, but it appears unlikely he will do so. Perhaps because that would involve making all the details of his night out on March 3rd VERY public.

If you're a Steelers fan and you're upset that this hurts your team's chances for the next season, fine. I don't have that attitude about professional athletes that play for my team (I hated it when the Eagles signed Michael Vick), but it's your choice. But please don't act like you're upset because this is some kind of glaring legal injustice, as opposed to being upset that you'll have to watch the Steelers go 2-4 under Byron Leftwich this fall.

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by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 3:58am

xeynon,
I am a Redskins fan.(please stop laughing)

I understand the legalities. I'm not arguing anything about the legality of the Ben Roethlisberger suspension. I'm arguing about the future suspension of Sam Bradford when the Rams are sick of him not being a good quarterback and they don't feel like paying his salary.

Goodell's policy of playing judge brings more bad publicity to the league. Roethlisberger's transgressions would have been out of new a few days after courts stopped pursing charges. However, because of the policy he will continue to be in the news for this incident indefinitely.

Nothing about this thread makes me look forward to the NFL season. The idea is to to put the lipstick on the pig not take it off. Goodell doesn't get it.

One man's opinion.

139
by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 7:39am

I understand that suspending Roethlisberger prolongs the media exposure; however, in what way is holding him accountable and providing consequences for his behaviour bring bad publicity?

140
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 7:40am

If there is a good chance (and there is) that the pig rapes women, then the pig needs instruction as to what the price will be for doing so. Now, this particular sort of pig tends to be impervious to instruction, as many parole boards, and, unfortunately, women, have found out, so the endeavor to educate has a good chance of failing. That is not a good reason for not trying, however.

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by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 12:04pm

The pig is the league as a whole, not Ben Roethlisberger. Now, every single accusation of any sort of crime by an NFL football player is going to be huge news. These guys aren't going to stop being degenerates when they've been allowed to do whatever the fudge they've wanted since they were 12. And now every single act of these degenerates is going to be magnified. Does Goodell know what an externality is?

I understand the outrage. However, outrage does not trump due process. When the process is piss the commissioner off and he will decide to suspend you I have a problem with that. I would not have a problem with that if commissioner = owner. Goodell does not own the league, and therefore IMO should only be the lord of events which happen in NFL facilities. Of course, my opinion doesn't matter and Goodell can do whatever he wants in this situation. That doesn't change the possibility that he is doing more harm than good.

In what other league in the world would a player be suspended for this? I can't think of an example of a player being suspended by its league for something that didn't happen on league's grounds.

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by Eddo :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 12:38pm

Due process applies in criminal proceedings involving the federal or state courts. It has no bearing on how an organization disciplines its employees.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 1:26pm

What does due process have to do with this? The people who own the teams have hired Goodell, and have delegated this power to him. If you want your opinion as to what power the commissioner has to have influence, go buy a team.

David Stern has suspended players for conduct that took place in areas outside of team or league property. The Colorado Rockies voided a contract, despite the most powerful union in sports, with Denny Neagle when he got arrested for hiring a prostitute, with his pants around his ankles in his car. The NHL suspended a player for making a crude remark about his ex-girlfriends dating other NHL players. There is nothing unusual about this.

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by Daniel2772 (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 1:27pm

First, it doesn't matter what other leagues do, this is the NFL and at this point it is the largest, most popular sport in the United States and will conduct it's business to maintain that status. I would point out that the first commissioner of baseball suspended the Chicago 'Blacksox' players over a year after they had been found not guilty in a court of law. It was the public outraged, fueled by the media coverage that forced the hand of the baseball owners to create the office of commissioner in the first place. By suspending players in this manner Goodell is being proactive in maintaining the status of the league as top dog.

Secondly, have you considered that the commissioner knows more about what happened that night than anyone else? Roethelisberger has pleaded the 5th in regards to answering questions asked by the Milledgeville D.A., which is his right. But Goodell has more leverage in the matter, if Roethelisberger had refused to answer his questions, Goodell could have banned him for life. No one knows for sure what went on in that bathroom except the two parties involved, and they were both intoxicated. What we do know is that Roethelisberger purchased drinks that were served to underage women. Witnesses say he had exposed himself to and had consensual/nonconsensual sex with one of the women in a public restroom. All of that is against the law. To say he did nothing wrong, or that all he is guilty of is bad judgement is simply not truthful. Is he a rapist? Not for me to judge. Is he a douchebag whose big move seems to be to isolate a woman and show him is wiener? Sure looks that way. As a lifelong fan of the Steelers I can honestly say I would rather go 6-10 with Leftwich and Dixon chucking passes to Mike Wallace and Limas Sweed than win a Superbowl with Roethelisberger and Holmes.

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by Jerry :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 6:57pm

Be careful what you wish for. I spent the afternoon watching the Pirates ("I'd rather see them lose without Bonds than win with him") lose by more runs than they've had consecutive losing seasons, which took quite an effort.

162
by Dave0 :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 1:34pm

Now, every single accusation of any sort of crime by an NFL football player is going to be huge news.

no its not. the Ko Simpson hindering police/Lance Briggs leaving the scene of his vehicular explosion types of crimes will remain uninteresting to most people.

However, outrage does not trump due process

due process? that concept is completely foreign to an employer/employee relationship

When the process is piss the commissioner off and he will decide to suspend you I have a problem with that

goodell has been hired by the owners to run the league.

when i do something horrible and the president of the company that employs me finds out about it do you believe his ability to fire me should hinge on if he's also a stockholder or not?

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by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 4:36pm

Due Process was a bad choice of words. I took 4th grade social studies I know what it literally means. Its the only word I could think of to describe whatever it is that happens between doing something to get Goodell's attention and then ultimately being suspended by him. I don't know contract law and I never sign contracts besides utility bills, so you guys have me trumped in that department.

Be that as it may it seems that the public wants Ben suspended and he is which I can be cool with. Most of the people will be right most of the time.

However, I won't be surprised if this stance ends up blowing up in the face of the NFL down the line.

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by Jerry :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 7:02pm

no its not. the Ko Simpson hindering police/Lance Briggs leaving the scene of his vehicular explosion types of crimes will remain uninteresting to most people.

Unless the commissioner decides to suspend the (alleged) criminal, or if the (alleged) crime is similar to one for which a suspension has been handed down.

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by Dave0 :: Fri, 04/23/2010 - 12:18pm

Unless the commissioner decides to suspend the (alleged) criminal, or if the (alleged) crime is similar to one for which a suspension has been handed down.

yes, obviously the commissioner has that power and would be wise to use it consistently. i don't see how that's a problem.

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by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Thu, 04/22/2010 - 8:26am

It could've been worse. They could've traded him to the Raiders.