It appears as if the Pittsburgh Steelers organization was hit with the proverbial double-whammy as both its starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and its number two (on the verge of number one) wide receiver Santonio Holmes both found themselves in legal trouble in recent weeks.
While nothing has stuck to either player in a legal sense thus far, the franchise was looking as if it had two black eyes coming from each players' issues.
The question for the ownership of the Steelers was what to do with Roethlisberger and Holmes?
The quick answer was to ship Holmes off to the New York Jets in a stunning and unforeseen trade. The Steelers apparently dodged a bullet in making the swap for a fifth-round draft pick as Holmes was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season.
The reason for the suspension was also a bit of a shocker. Holmes wasn't suspended for his off-the-field troubles, which includes two arrests and a near third, which has turned into a now pending lawsuit against the player.
Holmes was suspended under the NFL's substance abuse policy, meaning he likely tested positive for some sort of "recreational" drug (if his past history has anything to do with the suspension, the drug in question is likely marijuana as Holmes was once arrested for the drug, a charge that was later dismissed).
The question remains, what motivated the Jets to trade for a drug-using criminal? Shouldn't Holmes have been run out of the league rather than just out of Pittsburgh?
Meanwhile, the Steelers still have the headache of what to do with Roethlisberger. He seems headed for a suspension, himself, due to his off-the-field actions, both of which revolve around alledged sexual assaults.
But maybe not.
The league has yet to act on the Roethlisberger issue. It shouldn't need much more time to do so considering the circumstances. But in suspending Roethlisberger, the NFL will be admitting one of its prized star athletes at the very least lacks good judgement, if not worse. He would be the biggest star to fall under the league's authoritative (yet spotty) judgement for off-the-field incidents.
Will the Steelers franchise step up and do anything against Roethlisberger if the NFL doesn't?
Go back just two years to understand why the Steelers may be one of the most gutless teams in the NFL with regards to punishing its own.
In 2008, both wide received Cedrick Wilson and linebacker James Harrison were charged in battery cases just weeks apart (Wilson for assaulting an ex-girlfriend in a restaurant, Harrison for his then-girlfriend at home). What followed?
The Steelers immediately cut Wilson due to his incident. Such behavior was clearly not to be tolerated, not by the storied Steelers franchise.
But as for Harrison, he saw team owner Dan Rooney personally come to his defense. Harrison's incident was just misunderstood (his girlfriend dropped the charges, as is typical is abuse cases) by Rooney's observation. Harrison was not cut, nor was he disciplined by the team in anyway. In fact, a year later he was rewarded with a huge contract extension.
Sound similar to current events? Holmes is shipped off the team while Roethlisberger suffers no such indignity.
What is the Steelers franchise telling its fans with this inaction? What matters more, attempting to control a seemingly out-of-control athlete before he might do worse to himself or others, or winning football games and keeping its fans "happy?"
If the Steelers organization had some class, they would have punished all four athletes mentioned here equally by either expelling them all or suspending them all. Instead, they acted in an almost haphazard fashion, yet they still managed to keep the two big stars on the team (Harrison and Roethlisberger) while dismissing the two lesser players (Wilson and Holmes).
Is this their sense of judgement? Is this supposed to make them appear "tough?"
And most importantly, are fans that gullible to fall for it?
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