News broke earlier today about Pittsburgh running back Chris Rainey's arrest on a charge of simple battery after the rookie allegedly slapped his girlfriend last night following an argument.
Steelers announce they waive Chris Rainey following domestic abuse incident. strong statement. good for them— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 10, 2013
#Steelers took a stronger stand than Urban Meyer ever did. Team announces Chris Rainey has been waived following his arrest in Gainesville— Ben Volin (@BenVolinPBP) January 10, 2013
You might be wondering why the Steelers would take such drastic action without gathering more information or even waiting for a conviction. Unfortunately for the young back, this was not his first rodeo.
Rainey was red-flagged for character by various NFL teams coming into last year's draft, so this isn't surprising.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) January 10, 2013
Even so, were the Steelers really that righteous in their indignation? Fellow Steelers second-year player Alameda Ta'amu has 18 charges pending from an alleged police chase back in November, but he remains on the roster after being cut and signed to the practice squad.
While he might not have a history like Rainey, this situation seems a bit hypocritical.
If Rainey's charge sticks, the move is warranted. But the Steelers are being praised for taking action in a situation where they have laid low in the past.
I am, of course, referring to the allegations levied against their star quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.
A lawsuit against Big Ben for allegedly raping a casino employee was filed in 2009, which was only settled a year ago. Not one year after the lawsuit was filed, the star quarterback was accused of sexual assault by a Georgia woman, though no charges were ever filed.
Alleged crime aside, Roethlisberger also got into a nasty motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet.
The Steelers stood by their quarterback through it all.
Comparing accusations is unfair, but what is the difference here? Simply put, Rainey (and Ta'amu) were mid-to-late-round picks, while Ben Roethlisberger is the star quarterback and a team leader.
There may be more complex factors at play here, too, including some potential racial overtones—at least if you recall similar instances from the past—but the issue seems cut-and-dry to the masses.
If roles were reversed for Rainey and Roethlisberger, would the team be taking a "wait-and-see" approach for the former?
Does Rainey deserve to be summarily dismissed? If the allegations are true, it certainly seems like the Steelers did the right thing. But let's not give them too much credit here.
Had the Steelers dealt so immediately and severely with Roethlisberger, the backlash in Pittsburgh would have been tremendous and the team's offense would have suffered. Steeltown can't have that, can it?
Pittsburgh's inaction paid off. The league ultimately stepped in and suspended Big Ben and the Steelers quarterback eventually cleaned up his act.
Is there any reason to deny Rainey a similar opportunity?