In the coming weeks NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will have to figure out what punishment to hand down to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The NFL seems content not to let Roethlisberger dominate the NFL Draft and over shadow the hard work and dreams of the draft picks.
As soon as Mr. Irrelevant, the 255 pick in the 2010 draft is chosen, the eyes of the NFL, fans, and media will turn their attention to Big Ben. Perhaps no decision by Goodell so far under the player personal conduct policy will be more scrutinized then his punishment of Roethlisberger.
Goodell cannot appear to look easy on a white superstar in most people’s eyes. Many will point to the commissioner’s treatment of Michael Vick and Adam “Pac Man” Jones as to how Goodell has treated black players.
Roethlisberger is the biggest white star and most well known white player to possibly be punished under the conduct policy. How Goodell handles the Roethlisberger case will be watched closely by black players and black leaders.
The question is how many games Roethlisberger should be suspended for the 2010 season. There can be no question that the Steelers quarterback needs and must be sat down.
Before Steelers fans and others start whining that Roethlisberger has not been charged with anything, let me counter with this. Most people believe O.J. Simpson did murder his ex-wife but is not in prison for murder. Other players have committed crimes but did not sever jail time for their actions.
Just because a player has escaped the legal system or jail time does not mean that player should not be punished for his actions or poor judgment by the NFL. Roethlisberger would not be where he is now if he had not put himself in this situation.
Early on, the consensus was that Roethlisberger should be suspended for two games. But would two games be the right choice?
Roethlisberger has spent the last two off-seasons in the headlines for his conduct off the field. He was accused of sexual assault of a woman in a Las Vegas hotel room.
The woman was an employee of the hotel who claimed Roethlisberger and fellow employees covered up the attack. While no criminal charges were filed, Big Ben does face a civil suit in Nevada.
After this event one would think that Roethlisberger would not put himself in a similar situation again. Instead of laying low this off-season the quarterback while out at a college bar in Milledgeville, Georgia celebrating his birthday was accused of sexual assault for the second time in a year.
This time a criminal investigation was mounted but Roethlisberger escaped being charged. Shortly after being not charged in Georgia police documents have been released giving the details of that night.
The kind of punishment that will show the NFL is just as hard on white players as it is on black players. The kind of punishment to show Roethlisberger that playing in the National Football League is a privilege and not a right.
Roger Goodell should suspend Roethlisberger for at least four games. In reality he should sit down Roethlisberger for eight games or half the season.
After his suspension is over, the Rooney family and the Steelers organization should bench Roethlisberger for the rest of the season. Pittsburgh could play their troubled quarterback in case of injury but barring that, the offense should be led by either Charlie Batch or Dennis Dixon.
Roethlisberger would not be suspended so there would be nothing for him to appeal for since he would be active. The Steelers putting Big Ben on the bench would do two things for the team.
First of all it would show Roethlisberger that driving a motorcycle without a helmet, two accusations of sexual assault and, playing wrestling host in the middle of the season will not be tolerated.
Secondly, if the Steelers did want to trade Roethlisberger after the season a year of him on the bench could give them more value than the team could expect to get right now.
A year without playing football would either straight Roethlisberger out or with the extra time on his hands the quarterback that does not seem to get it would find trouble. Right now as long as there is little to no punishment Big Ben will never learn a lesson.
The Steelers could never move Roethlisberger at this moment because most teams would not want to take the public relations hit that trading for the troubled quarterback would bring. This is not a player who shot himself in the thigh or had a hand in killing dogs.
This is a player who has been accused of taking advantage of two women sexually. The league has to show no matter black or white that violence towards women will no longer be tolerated.
The only way the NFL can show Roethlisberger it means business over his off the field issues is to suspend him for eight games. After his eight game suspension is over the Pittsburgh Steelers as an organization should sit him on the bench for the rest of the season.