As with most of Steeler Nation, I've been reading news reports, op-ed articles, comments, comments on comments, blah, blah, blah..., concerning the matter of one Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger.
On the one hand, there are those who say that none of us has the right to make any judgment on the matter because Ben is innocent until proven guilty, no crime was provable, and we ourselves have as many faults as Ben does.
On the other hand, there are those who say that Ben's actions were despicable and that since they were committed in public, the public has the right to debate and pass judgment on the matter as it applies to its public affect.
Which position is correct? Or, is neither correct?
So now, for no particular reason (nor rhyme), it seems the time has come for me to offer my own thoughts. Or, maybe, I'm just killing time until the next episode of "24" starts.
Of all that I have read about this matter, the one statement that probably stuck with me the most was a comment on an article published right here on Bleacher Report. The commenter wrote the following, quoting a public figure of some note who lived not a few years ago (although the quote is taken out of context, but that is another matter):
He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. -- John 8:7
Well, here is another quote from the same notable public figure:
From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. -- Luke 12:48
Obviously, Ben Roethlisberger has been given much, and has been entrusted with much. Much, much more than you or I will ever be. That being so, consider the question: Who has given to Ben, and entrusted him with, that which he has been given?
Is it the Rooneys, who pay his salary and provide him with his primary livelihood?
Is it the Steelers organization as a whole, teammates, management, trainers, general staff and others, who give him the support that he needs to succeed?
Is it the NFL, who provides him a sufficiently viable league in which he has the opportunity to compete to earn his living?
Is it the fans of Steeler Nation, in Pittsburgh, in the U.S., or anywhere in the world, who indirectly pay his salary by purchasing tickets and merchandise?
Is it the fans of NFL football everywhere, who also indirectly contribute to his income derived from endorsements, advertising, royalties, and other intellectual property?
Is it all of the above?
And this question: Those who have given to Ben, what may they require of him, and what may they ask of him?
As the above questions would suggest, we may all be stakeholders in the matter to one extent or another. As such, do we not have a right to decide for ourselves if we, or those for whom we are responsible, are injured or otherwise affected in any way by anything that has happened?
As stakeholders, do we not have the right to decide what is the probability that such events could occur again, to do our part to deter them and to take measures to protect ourselves against them in the event they do occur again?
If seems obvious that Ben's actions have had a significantly offensive effect on the stakeholders. If you determine that the effect is too damaging to tolerate further, you can take whatever measures you deem necessary to deal with it, whether that be by speaking out, or tuning out, or turning your attention elsewhere.
Others will disagree with you, but so what?
Moreover, who is the one who is more compassionate and caring toward Ben, the one who would express his displeasure firmly and steadfastly in the hope that it will exhort and encourage him to work hard to correct whatever weaknesses contributed to his mistakes; or the one who says that it is no one's business what Ben does, and lets him continue on his present course, regardless of the destructive effects, both public and private, that it may lead to?
Legal guilt or innocence is irrelevant. The stakeholders need to decide whether or not the damage is too much to bear without consequences.
If the Steelers determine that Ben's actions have done too much damage to them, so be it. Let them pass judgment and dole out a sentence that is appropriate for them.
If the NFL determines that Ben's actions have done too much damage to it, so be it. Let the NFL pass judgment and dole out a sentence that is appropriate for itself.
And let the Steeler Nation decide for itself what their response should be.
Whatever the repercussions may be toward Ben, let them be given with the desire to build Ben up, not tear him down.
As a rather wise man once said a very long time ago:
He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. -- Proverbs 15:32
Here's hoping that Ben acquires understanding.
And then leads the Steelers to another Super Bowl title.