Ben Roethlisberger is facing another sexual assault investigation, this time in Georgia and is the second in the last two years. Ben still has the civil case from the rape allegation at a Lake Tahoe hotel back in 2008 lingering. That case was virtually swept under the rug by mainstream media and with no surprise, they are doing the same thing with the current incident.
We’ll get back to the "why" later.
When you add Roethlisberger’s 2006 helmet-less motorcycle accident into the mix, you begin to see a pattern of questionable decision-making. This is the third time in five years the Pittsburgh quarterback has made the wrong kind of headlines and given us reason to question his thinking and his actions.
That’s at least twice too many for any player in the NFL given that commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear in his almost four year tenure that if you keep putting yourself in situations where you can be accused of wrong-doing— even falsely in some cases— you still bear some of the blame for creating the environment that led to the trouble.
Once is an accident and twice is a trend is roughly Goodell’s rule of thumb, and while the commissioner has been relatively quick to drop the hammer on guys like Pacman and Tank Johnson, he has been sort of mute with Big Ben, as he was never punished for the bike incident and the 2008 rape incident.
The commissioner has always maintained that the NFL code of conduct is independent of due process, as we found out in the case of Pacman Jones, who was never convicted of any crime, but put himself in the same situation numerous times. As far as I am concerned, the commissioner has always been fair in his punishment of players. Now we hope for some consistency as we hold our collective breath to see what Goodell does this time.
We don’t know if Roethlisberger is guilty of committing sexual assault, as he now has been accused of for a second time in less than nine months. Short of any proof, this is the part of the story where I’m obligated to talk about due process running its course, the concept of innocent until proven guilty, and warn about the dangers of rushing to judgment against a person who has not been charged with any crime in either case.
The media and the court of public opinion don’t care about due process, guilt, or innocence, they only care about the sensation the storyline can provide.
It doesn’t take a DNA test to know that Roethlisberger is young, single, and likes to party. None of that is against the law, and didn’t you all help make a late-night legend out of another rust-belt-born quarterback, Joe Namath, for doing the exact same thing about 40 years ago?
Just like Namath, Ben is larger than life on the field but lacks the star quality Namath possessed off it. A 14-1 rookie year and two Super Bowl rings in his first five seasons and yet he flies under the radar virtually invincible off the field. He parties hard and breaks traffic laws and is given a pass by law enforcement because he’s a god in Steelers nation and to football fans nationwide, and deservingly so. This has led to Big Ben believing he’s bullet-proof.
The truth of the matter is the mainstream media had very little coverage of his bike accident and swept the first sex scandal under the rug and are doing same with the current sex scandal because Big Ben is simply boring.
Tiger Woods' sex scandal was on the cover of the New York Times for 20 straight days, (more days than the 9/11 terrorist attacks) has sold out magazines, and Nancy Grace became relevant again. It is the story of a regular guy from humble beginnings rising to the top of his sport and becoming the face of the sport. A story like that is what Hollywood movies are made of. He's hailed to be not just the greatest golfer of all time, but the greatest athlete, and then suddenly falls from grace.
Now we're talking big budget blockbuster material.
Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson are guys with troubled pasts with millions to spend and spending it with as much flash as possible. They never let you forget how rough they had it growing up and how much they have now.
Michael Vick, the most exciting player in the league in his prime and one of the most talked about for his off the field antics, and that’s long before anyone even knew he was running a dog fighting ring.
Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, and even Ron Artest have never been accused of any crimes, yet generate lots of negative press.
All these guys are young, rich, and have lots of free time on their hands. In other words, it's a recipe for disaster. On or off the field, they generate lots of curiosity, which leads to ratings.
Is it a coinicidence that everyone on the aforementioned list is black?
Most major league athletes are from lower income families and a large number of black families fall into that economic sector, then overnight these young men become millionaires–it’s the American dream, and it makes for a good TV story in programs like ESPN’s Outside the Lines , but watching some athlete fall from grace is a ratings jackpot for prime-time network TV.
While a guy like Ben Roethlisberger didn’t grow up rich either, he’s also living the American dream like every other athlete in the NFL, but lacks the flash and his ordinary background makes him look like a regular Joe.
Make no mistake, if this was happening to a guy like Tom Brady (now or before he got married) you would have Tiger Woods like coverage, while if the same happened to Peyton Manning, it would virtually be swept under the rug, because Tom Brady is more of a celebrity than Peyton Manning and the media loves Peyton Manning.
The media picks and chooses who's to be prosecuted based on their research of who can deliver on the ratings or they prosecute based on who they hate.
While Tiger Woods got some of the roughest coverage I’ve seen in recent years, Alex Rodriguez cheating the game of baseball was immediately forgotten after that laughable press conference. For years, golf writers accused Tiger of not respecting the game and they saw his sex scandal as an avenue for payback. While A-Rod has always been loved by the media, a little issue like cheating the game of baseball isn’t going to change that.
Everyone is calling for the head of Barry Bonds because the media hates him, while Mark Mcgwire deserves a second chance.
Is it fair that Big Ben gets a chance to go through due process without the extra scrutiny from mainstream media, while he’s counterparts get a raw deal right from the gates? I would say yes. It pays to be invincible and if guys like Michael Vick want the same treatment, I suggest they learn how to make themselves uninteresting off the field.