May 12, 2010
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
It's time for the media, fans, and the city of Pittsburgh to move on.
On April 12, 2010, after a month long investigation Ocmulgee County District Attorney Fred Bright announced to the world that Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would not face any criminal charges after being accused of sexual assault in Georgia. Not only did Bright say that he wouldn't prosecute Roethlisberger, he also said they (the county) didn't even have probable cause for an arrest. In any sexual assault case, not even having probable cause is huge.
That statement by Bright has mostly been ignored by the media since he made it.
The media's portrayal of Roethlisberger (Especially in Pittsburgh where his relationship with them is tedious at best.) in this case has been shameful. From selective editing of witness statements to representing those statements as "fact", the local media has portrayed Roethlisberger as a man who raped a 20 year old Georgia woman and got away with it.
I'm sorry, that's just not right.
No arrest, no probable cause. Once again those are the facts.
Is Roethlisberger immature? Yes. Is Roethlisberger guilty of bad judgment? Yes. Should Roethlisberger avoid these types of situations, especially with the Nevada case still hanging over his head? Yes.
But that does not make Roethlisberger a criminal. It makes him stupid.
Please spare me your "anger" Steelers fans. Please spare me your preaching about morals as well.
This is the same city that after players and/or coaches didn't perform as well as the fans would have liked started rumors such as:
Dan Marino had a cocaine habit after he didn't win a national title at Pitt.
Kordell Stewart was a homosexual when he stunk in 1998-1999.
Bill Cowher was having an affair with Kordell's sister, his secretary, and supposedly had a restraining order filed against him by Kaye Cowher once his team stopped making the playoffs.
Tom Barrasso was stabbed by his wife because she found him in bed with a babysitter.
None of these men were ever accused of sexual assault, but they were all subjected to vicious, nasty rumors that affected their lives as people, not athletes.
Enough with the preaching of the "Steeler Way" as well. Did the Steelers cut Ernie Holmes when he shot a police officer? Did the Steelers cut Eric Green when he abused cocaine? Did the Steelers cut Santonio Holmes after he was arrested three times in his first three seasons in the NFL?
The answer to all of the above, is no. So stop with the praising of the image of the Steelers. They, like other teams, have always had problem children. Fans who won't accept that look silly and uninformed about the very team that root for when they claim the Rooney's "don't put up with them".
The worst part about all of this is how Ben has been made into a pariah in Pittsburgh without being charged with a crime. The latest "rumor" to be made public by the media is that the Pittsburgh Penguins have told Roethlisberger to stay away from the team's luxury box during the Stanley Cup Playoffs even though he has been a regular presence there for years.
If true, that is also very poor form considering the "allegation" that Mario Lemieux faced in 1992 in Minnesota during an incident in which former teammate Dan Quinn, who was with the North Stars at the time was actually charged with rape.
Lemieux more than most should understand what Roethlisberger is going through. He's the owner of the team and if he still considers Ben a friend he should have stuck by him much in the same way he has stuck by his former, married teammate Kevin Stevens after he was charged with soliciting a prostitute and drug possession in 2000 while as a member of the New York Rangers, only to be brought back to Pittsburgh as a player in 2001 and who currently works in the Penguins front office as a scout.
Roethlisberger has his faults and his problems, but the treatment he is getting from all sides on this issue is wrong and uncalled for. It's a public lynching of a man who hasn't been charged with a crime.
It's time to let it go, allow Roethlisberger the chance to move forward and deal with his issues.
Continuing to beat this dead horse into the ground serves no purpose anymore.
Enough is enough.
You can email Keith at KeithJFro@aol.com
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