Ben Roethlisberger: The NFL’s Catch-22
Posted by RichieZ23 on April 13, 2010
By now, you surely know about the latest sexual assault case against Ben Rothlisberger and its subsequent dismissal. I will not waste your time rehashing the details. The issue I want to discuss is why the NFL needs to discipline Rothlisberger, and if there is no consequences for his actions, a new NFL Commissioner needs to be found.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been very strict against players who have violated the personal conduct policy (i.e. brought embarrassment to the NFL), especially repeat offenders. Rothlisberger has become a repeat offender with the latest rape accusations in Georgia, Lake Tahoe, and also a motorcycle incident without a helmet that nearly ended his life.
Precedent Set for Repeat Offenders
Now, to be clear, I do not imply that Rothlisberger is guilty in anyway for either of these incident. If anything, I fully believe he is innocent, and that the accuser simply wants her 15-seconds of fame and the potential of some monetary settlement out of court. Professional athletes can get almost any woman they want, they don’t need to go around raping women. What happens is the woman and star athlete hook up, and afterwards the woman realizes she might be able to get paid if she claims rape.
Regardless, Roethlisburger has put himself in this situation twice, and brought bad publicity to the NFL through his actions, legal or not. If you were to apply the strict guideline of not bringing bad publicity to the NFL brand-name, then Rothlisberger would be guilty. After all, there is plenty of precedence involving Mike Vick and Pacman Jones.
Goodell has used this guideline in punishing athletes previously, as there is plenty of precedence with Adam “Pacman” Jones and Michael Vick — both were suspended pending legal action that they had not been convicted of yet (or at all).
Teams have also set a precedent, such as the Broncos who suspended Brandon Marshall last year for a combination of things that were detrimental to the team and the Chiefs who suspended Larry Johnson because of domestic abuse allegations and arrests. Considering these precedents, Goodell or the Steelers need to send a message saying that this type of behavior will not be tolerated, regardless of status or race.
Goodell’s commissionership has been marked for the most part by one main concept — maintaining a positive image for the league, and punishing those who deviate.
However, there is a part that scares both of those parties. Money.
C.R.E.A.M. — Cash Rules Everything Around Me
Many rule changes in the NFL have centered around quarterback protection, such as the extremely extreme “roughing the passer guidelines,” severe penalties for “dangerous” hits and the “Brady rule.” While the message of safety is trumpeted for each of these rules, the type of safety owners are most worried about is the safety of cash flows.
Nothing ruins ticket sales more than a quarterback who is not playing (either due to injuries or suspension). The Steelers do not want to risk irritating paying fans by putting a self-imposed suspension on their star player. Goodell wants to have plenty of stars to make his product more desirable. But, Goodell also does not want his legacy — and the personal conduct policy — to be tarnished by the appearance of favoritism, or even hints at racism.
Make no mistake about it, if Goodell suspended Vick and Jones without legal conviction, yet gives Roethlisburger a free pass on yet another personal conduct instance, every African-American man and woman in America has every right to be upset, and Goodell needs to be seriously looked at closely in his role as NFL Commissioner.
It has been rumored many times that Goodell is not the nicest of people — that he will not give people the time of day unless they have money or power to help the NFL, and coming from an upper-class background, he looks down upon African American athletes who were not as fortunate and grew up in the inner city ghettos.
Goodell needs to play situation fairly and suspend Big Ben, or along with Roethlisburger, Goodell may be the one in need of the suspension from the NFL. Only unlike Roethlisburger, it should be a permanent one.