Before starting off, I want to make something clear; this isn't about defending or detracting from what incident(s) (alleged or otherwise) happened regarding Ben Roethlisberger. I just want to take a step back to look at things and gauge what has happened, and why, without any moral bias.
Here's a quick summation of everything that has put him in hot water:
1) He smashes a motorcycle— hurts himself without wearing a helmet.
2) He sleeps with a woman in a hotel room, and she files civil suit crying rape. There is no criminal case.
3) "Something" happens with a girl in a bathroom. Again, there is no criminal case. Additionally, there are no charges and no arrest.
Goodell suspends him six (maybe four) games with the blessing of the Rooney's.
Now by all accounts, Ben has been quite the jerk the past few years. I have never met the guy, but I would concede the point as being quite possible. He could very well be not a very nice person who thinks himself better than others, because of his stature as an NFL QB.
In a few days, they are going to release audio/video tapes of reports that were taken subsequent to the night of situation number three (apparently the straw that broke the camels back) — in which we'll hear what was said by the girl, her friends, and the entourage. While it'll be quite titillating, I'm sure, that's not why I'm writing this.
Is it just me, or does all of this just not smell right?
First off, there is the suspension.
Ben got six games for not even being arrested. He turned around, said 'thank you', went to therapy, and said, "fine."
How do the Williams' Boys in Minnesota get a four game ban for positive drug tests (in what seems to be an ironclad league policy, black or white), and yet, here is a punishment which seems like a second year law student from Miami (Ohio) could get thrown out of court, and it doesn't see the desk of a lawyer?
Once again — all the people who want to jump in and shout, "Because he's guilty of rape and he knows it!" as an excuse, just won't hold water. You can't propose that he is this pompous, egocentric, self serving asshole one moment — but now he's grown a conscience. Especially true since he has all the legal muscle in the world on his side.
Secondly; the union
The membership of the NFLPA, with this one case, have gotten beaten around the schoolyard, by the proverbial bully. I have worked in a unionized environment and even when a complete a**hole, whose guts you hated, stuck his d**k in the fan — the union (and their members) defended him. Why? Because one day they might be coming for YOU.
Has the union nothing to say? Did Ben even approach the union for help? If he didn't — why not? What does DeMaurice Smith have to say about a suspension based not on an arrest, but the changing (and sometimes inequitable) rules?
Is he a jerk? Yup. A rapist? I don't think so. Does he make poor decisions regarding his down time? Without a doubt. Is he having an epiphany about the kind of karma he is putting out into the universe and has vowed to turn over a new leaf? Methinks not so much...
Fourthly; the big Business that is the NFL
I once had a wise accounting professor who told me, "If things don't make sense — follow the money trail. 99 times out of 100, the answer is there."
Are the Rooneys the last bastion of the NFL's Emily Post — defending the shield to the very end, righting all wrongs, model citizens all, Steeler Nation squeaky clean, strength of 10 men because our hearts are pure...
...no. We know the examples. If you don't, you better ask somebody.
No — this is about hardball. Billions and billions of dollars of hardball. For those who missed it; morals have no place when talking this kind of money. Men get killed for this kind of money.
Why does it seem that there is more to this case than straightening out some jerk off from Ohio?
Does anyone else here think that this sort of conversation was possible when Ben Roethlisberger met with Roger Goodell prior to his suspension;
RG: Listen Ben, there are things happening now, that are much bigger than you getting caught with a girl in a bathroom. I need you to think about taking one for the bigger 'team' here — and there'll be something in it for you.
BR: But honestly, Mr G — I didn't do anything with her. I'm not even being charged here.
RG: Two things Ben; One — I have to be able to hammer the players/union and keep them in line. Big things are happening in a year or two, and you want to be on the 'winning' side, don't you? Don't worry — we'll take care of you. Secondly — how can I bust all those 'other' guys, the 'real' criminals, and you know who I'm talking about here, if I go easy on a guy like you? I can't give them ANY leg to stand on.
BR: But I'm going to lose millions here; salary, endorsements — plus I'll look like a rapist jerk.
RG: Ben — don't worry about the money. What do you think Swiss bank accounts are for? We can always back channel you funds. As well, don't worry what people think about you — you thinking of running for public office?
BR: But the team, the fans...
RG: Listen Ben — the Rooneys are already onside with this. Tampa will trade them Leftwich back for the games you're out. Everything will be okay — just look at it as a small vacation away from all the sacks you had. As for the fans — they have a short memory. Win a few games and all will be forgiven.
BR: I'm not sure. I'm really not comfortable with this.
RG: Ben, be a big boy and play ball with us. You help us out and we'll help you out. You go against us in this and who knows how it could play out — there'll be a lot of angry, very powerful people against you on the other side of the table. You think DeMaurice Smith will protect you? You want to take your chances with him?
BR: Well, I...
RG: I promise. Just take your suspension, say 'yessir, yessir', do the therapy thing, say the bland things in media scrums, and everything will be fine. Ben, we are talking about BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars here. Do you understand me?
Now — I'm not saying. I'm just saying...