When Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger began his meteroric rise to stardom in 2004, I was on the bandwagon. I got his jersey for Christmas and wore it proudly, rooted for him, cheered when he got his first Super Bowl. When he had his motorcycle accident in 2006 you would have thought I knew him personally with the flood of e-mails I got. His bobblehead is among my collection on my office desk.
At the same time, though, I never thought he was "Big Ben Godsend" as the famous fan banner at Heinz Field reads. There were those that whispered that he didn't go top ten in the draft due to some heavy partying at Miami of Ohio.
A friend of mine who was attending the University of Pittsburgh told me of seeing him at popular college bars, confirmed by the infamous pictures at a bar called Halo that were splashed all over the place. Some said he was rude, threw his celebrity about, and was crude when it came to women.
At the same time he was on TV, pointing to the sky after throwing touchdowns, talking about his relationship with the Lord, portraying himself as just a small town kid from Ohio made good while a diamond-paved platinum cross worthy of a rapper hung around his neck. I shrugged. Not the first case of athlete hipocrisy, not the last, either.
When news of the civil suit filed against Roethlisberger accusing him of sexual assault surfaced this week, I was not at all surprised that the misogynists immediately came out to play all over the internet. If I had a dollar for every time I read the words "slut," "whore," "gold digger" and "b***h" in connection with Andrea McNulty's name I'd be a millionaire. What made it worse was that there were women writing these words as well.
And then there was "why would he rape her, she's not even pretty" and "he could have done way better than her." It's times like this when I wish the internet was only accessible to those who have higher level IQs because the ignorance is astounding. Sexual assault is not about sex, but about power. If looks played a part in it, why do children and the elderly get raped, hmm?
By all accounts Andrea McNulty was on a fast career path at Harrah's, rising into a position that paid six figures. That might be chump change in Manhattan or L.A. but not Nevada. Because of Harrah's convoluted security rules she had to report the incident to the chief security officer before calling 911... and he dismissed it.
The Reno Journal-Gazette ran an interesting timeline of the events as McNulty reported them. Somehow to me that doesn't read like someone who was only interested in money.
I know that women have falsely cried rape in the past, which disgusts me because it makes it that much harder for real victims to get justice. Andrea McNulty had to have known that the second she went public with this that her life would be dragged through the mud of the media and public opinion.
I don't know if her story is true or false, that's for the courts to decide. When I saw Roethlisberger's press conference, however, something struck me—he said he never assaulted McNulty. He did not say he didn't have sex with her.
Sexual assault doesn't have to involve blood, broken bones and bruises. It can be a man deciding that a short skirt, a low-cut top, a drunken dance or a chat about fly fishing means a woman wants it and he should take it regardless of her feelings.
To those who call Andrea McNulty names, consider how you'd feel if a woman you love told you that this happened to her. Would you be so quick to condemn her then?