So the investigative journalist that is Chris Mortensen has revealed the NFL will suspend Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger four to six games. Here is a good story by the Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette, which reveals more of the stipulations and the commissioners terms.
Totally fair, says this Steelers fan.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has never suspended anyone of violating the league’s code of conduct that had also not been charged with a crime. Because of that, I was little surprised at the length. The minimum (four games), for example, is the same as a repeat violator of the league’s drug policy.
But after reading about half of the 400-some pages of the Georgia district attorney’s investigation, I wholly believe this suspension is deserved and needs to serve as a learning tool for Roethlisberger — and for everyone else who reads it, watches about it on TV, or otherwise hears of this case.
I assume most people will suggest this be a lesson to high-profile athletes — incredibly wealthy jocks who are used to getting what they want without resistance, a lesson especially to those who are young, single, and perhaps not terribly bright.
But this lesson needs to resonate much farther.
My greatest fear is not that the Steelers will trade Roethlisberger (though I don’t think should), that he will tank under pressure, or that he doesn’t learn the lesson. My greatest fear is that this lesson will be lost on an elite few without much between the ears from the get-go.
I have been living on a college campus since August, in a town a little larger than Milledgeville, Va. serving a school a little bigger than Georgia State. These are the places where this lesson needs to hit home.
Each weekend night, a parade of young girls — girls that are much like the 20-year-old Georgian who was at least the victim of bad judgment and quite possibly a rape victim — hits the town armed with fake IDs, youthful libidos and little sense. These girls are dressed in impossibly short skirts, skin-tight dresses and high heels.
They leave little to the imagination other than how deep their insecurities really run.
They flirt for free drinks. They drink too much. They flirt too much. They may even wear name tags that read “DTF” (“Down to Fuck” — see the Roethlisberger papers). They say and do ridiculous things, and in the end, they attract the kind of young man that values them so much he calls them “bitches” and doesn’t care that she looks and acts like a whore.
Imagine the scene when these kind of girls encounter a young man like that who is also big-time football star everyone knows makes $100 million.
Roethlisberger is 28. He needs to know better. But he is the product of a culture that coddles their star athletes into thinking they can do and have whatever they want when they want it, and the only way to beat that — at least partially out of him — is to take away the one thing that makes up his identity: Football.
This disaster needs to serve as a lesson to all those young women, to the society that nurtures this free-pass mentality, and to the men who find so little value in half the population.
I don’t want the Steelers to get rid of Roethlisberger, mostly because he is a damn good quarterback. But I am disgusted. I’m just not surprised — and that is sad.
For anyone who knows him, they should pray the Steelers keep him because, right now, Roethlisberger needs the Steelers — a strong organization that will provide the structure so he can become a better man. He has a chance to right some of the wrongs. First, he needs to wake up and see the reality of his actions. If he can do that and make amends on some level, he can be the trumpeter of this lesson — not just to people like himself, but to everyone.