Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger Allegations: Here We Go Again

Trish BennettContributor IMarch 11, 2010

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 20:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers on December 20, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

In July 2009, when Harrah's of Reno employee Andrea McNulty filed a civil lawsuit accusing Ben Roethlisberger of sexual assault, the denying outcry from Steeler Nation was almost deafening.  

I wrote an article here offering my perspective as a woman, suggesting that with past history and rumors Roethlisberger wasn't above suspicion, and the outcry over that was almost as loud.

Fast forward to March 2010, and Roethlisberger finds himself in the middle of another accusation of sexual assault.  

This time, however, matters are leaning much more towards the criminal side, and Steelers fans are now not quite as quick to defend him.

No charges have officially been filed, but his retention of attorney Ed Garland, well known for getting other NFL players off some pretty sharp hooks, isn't boding well with a lot of people.

Whether Roethlisberger assaulted this young woman is a matter to be decided through the proper channels, but no one can deny that he is guilty of being incredibly stupid.  

At a time when everyone with a camera phone and a Twitter account can be a paparazzo, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback can't expect to walk into a small Georgia college bar and not have people pay attention.

Or was that what he wanted, to be the big fish in the tiny pond?

There are those who protest that it's unfair to expect Roethlisberger to hole up and never go out anywhere.  There is truth to that, but at the same time the rules are different for a star athlete.  

Again, the Internet has allowed almost instant reporting of events, and if you're getting drunk and hitting on women in a public place, someone's eventually going to post it on Facebook.

Another Pittsburgh athlete, Sidney Crosby, has taken that knowledge to heart.  

He has accepted that he can't move about like a "regular" person, that stares and whispers will always follow him, that people will only be too happy to rip him if he does something wrong.

For a 22-year-old man that has to be a sacrifice, but Crosby seems to deal with it with dignity.

It's been sad to watch Roethlisberger's fall from grace.  

Parents write of dissuading children from wearing his jersey to school; others put their bobbleheads away.  

Whatever happens in the case, his image is tarnished.  It's possible that like his fellow Garland client, Ray Lewis, he might be able to do a turnaround, but once the image has been damaged, it's a long road back.

If nothing else, maybe he'll learn that the rules apply to him, too.