Trading Ben Roethlisberger: Short-Sighted and Hypocritical

ShelleyCorrespondent IApril 22, 2010

PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 07:  An NFL logo on the sidelines during a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Houston Texans on September 7, 2008 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

I find the media and the public to be hypocrites about the Ben Roethlisberger suspension.

Let’s be upfront about this. The official report released about the incident that lead to Roethlisberger’s suspension is absolutely disgusting. It also was not a concrete enough case to have held up to the standard of proof needed in a court of law to convict him.

I am in no way condoning Roethlisberger’s actions. But I believe in the power of the law and the skill of the prosecutors. If they could not get him, then they could not get him.

He has brought shame to the Steelers: everyone from their owners to the players, and to their fans.

Yet I find it hypocritical for Steeler Nation to hope for his trade.

The Steelers’ past is not spotless and squeaky clean. From steroid use decades ago to Jeff Reed’s drunken antics, the Steelers are no stranger to scandal.

Even recently is the often-mentioned example of former Steeler player William Colough and current star defensive player James Harrison. Both were the subject of domestic abuse accusations and problems—but the star player was kept and the other released.

We’re talking about domestic abuse. That’s when there is a high-level of trust between partners and one partner physically abuses the other. And let’s be frank, the term "domestic abuse" includes everything from a slap to full-out rape.

Now, I’m in no way suggesting that Harrison and Colough were involved in rape, and in fact, I do not know what actually happened. My point is only to show that we, the public, do not know what actually happened and that many men in the NFL and in other sports have often been accused of (and some guilty of) domestic abuse.

Why is the sexual assualt in Roethlisberger's case any worse than those cases of domestic abuse? They are both physical attacks on women.

It seems suddenly that any male celebrity or any man in a position of authority is not to be trusted. It seems that if you, a woman,  get involved with one of them you will either wind up cheated on, pregnant, or physically assaulted.

It sickens me; from Tiger Woods and his dozens of mistresses, to one NFL player who has multiple children by multiple women, to Roethlisberger’s disgusting interlude with a 20-year old.  

But what do they have in common? Little respect for women.

So why are people suddenly calling for Ben Roethlisberger’s head on a platter? Sexual assualt is not a new and heinous crime. It is an old and heinous crime.

I am glad Roethlisberger is going to be suspended. I was thinking it would be for four games, but I’m glad it’s set at six with the possibility of more or less depending on his compliance and future behavior. 

He’s been an absolute idiot and jerk (profanity deleted). There is no question about that.

But why this pressure to trade him?

If this happens in the future to another team—like the Cowboys or Chargers, for example—would they let their franchise quarterback go?

What if it’s sexual assault in a marriage or a relationship? Would the League step in then?  But we only hear “domestic abuse” and seem to dismiss it. Is Goodell going to get involved? Would the Organization itself decide to trade the player after that?

I am glad that the league is coming down hard on Roethlisberger’s actions. It is time that the National Football League start addressing these concerns.

The League’s strategy at this point is punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation all rolled into one. This is the first time such a strong suspension has been handed down without a criminal conviction in place.

I think we have to see if the League’s strategy will work. We have to know if the actions they’re taking will have a positive effect on the players and thus deter other players from similar actions.

The Steelers should let the suspension do it’s work and not trade Roethlisberger at this time.

Roethlisberger is (hopefully) going to be subject to endless evaluations, endless tests, and endless counseling from now on.  And he damn well should be.  As I said, he’s been a complete ****tard.

But, like the State of California, I believe in the Three Strikes Rule. He should get one more honest chance to prove himself and he should not be traded before he gets it. But proving he has changed is not going to be a matter of months, it’s going to be a matter of years. It is going to take years for him to prove himself again.

And the Steelers should give it to him.

More than any other organization, I get a warm feeling when I think about the Pittsburgh Steelers. Part of that feeling is knowing that they care about their players and their fans even when business intervenes or a player infuriates them.

Last season the Organization refused to let Ryan Clark play in a game against the Denver Broncos, fearing for his health and life in Denver's high altitude—even after doctors had cleared him to play.

But you cannot just pick and choose compassion with your family. I do not believe that compassion is only for the positive heart-rending stories. Sometimes the most infuriating stories are the ones that need the most compassion.

I would like the Organization to live up to what I perceive it to be and give Roethlisberger one final chance before jettisoning him.  

If the Steelers trade him right now, all I see happening is a team having to break in another quarterback and pray to the Heavens that they get lucky with while some other team has a decent probability of going to one Super Bowl after another.

Because if Roethlisberger ever finally grows up, ever get his head out of his ass, he’ll again be a force to reckon with. 

But granted, those are pretty big ‘IF’s.


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