If Ben Roethlisberger was a white, Super Bowl-winning quarterback for one of the NFL’s great franchises, this never would have happened.
In fact, it’s hard not to sympathize with the plight of a man who was hit in the face by another man for trash talking. I feel terrible every time this happens at the bar. Nightly.
Except this time, it took place on a between two sober adults (hopefully). One of whom has an alleged history of, shall we say, attitude issues. (Not to mention he was giving up 100 pounds to the other guy.)
So pardon me for failing to pity Ben Roethlisberger and his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates who bravely defended him against that bully, Richard Seymour. Yes, the same Steelers who whined about the NFL cracking down on hits that carry the intent to injure.
Those Steelers are now whining about the injustice of a $25,000 fine for Seymour after his ejection for the hit on Roethlisberger. Injustice like, you know, the victim of an alleged date rape having the odds stacked against her because of alcohol consumption and a witness list in the employ of the defendant.
That sort of injustice.
The argument being put forth by Steelers’ receivers Antwaan Randle El and Hines Ward goes like this: if the hit had been on Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, or if Seymour himself were a Pittsburgh Steeler, the Seymour's fine would’ve been much higher.
The fines are assigned on severity of the misconduct/hit and the history of the involved player. Let’s keep in mind that the hit was with an open hand, Roethlisberger was wearing a helmet and Roethlisberger flopped like a Portuguese soccer player.
My point here isn’t at all to defend Seymour. He needs to have better control of his emotions. $25,000 out of his pocket should help him learn that.
If not? The fine will be bigger next time.
The real takeaway from this should be that the Pittsburgh Steelers, known throughout the league for at least 40 years as being a hard-hitting, physical team, are not doing themselves or Roethlisberger any favors by complaining publicly about this situation.
Outside of the Steelers organization and fan base, they’re unlikely to gain sympathizers. Given that, the complaining sounds like a teenage girl finding out her Justin Bieber concert was canceled.
Roethlisberger himself took what I assume he thought was the high road. He was asked if the fine would have been different if he was another quarterback. His reply was, “We all know the answer to that one. Easy.”
Well, Ben, we actually don’t. You know, because the quarterbacks in question are intelligent and classy enough to avoid engaging in smack talk with defensive linemen. If a linemen laid the smack down on Manning or Brady, it would be reasonable for the fine to be higher.
This is just a reminder that Big Ben still doesn’t get it. Public relations battles are won by acting the part of Manning or Brady (see: Vick, Michael). You can overcome a sordid past. An unjustified sense of entitlement doesn’t win you any fans.
In fact, as with the on-field incident itself, Roethlisberger would have been best served to keep his mouth shut.
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