Ben Roethlisberger Engaged to Ashley Harlan: Can We Like Him Again?

Justin EisenbandCorrespondent IJanuary 5, 2011

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 23:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers laughs on the sideline during the game against the Carolina Panthers on December 23, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Recent reports out of 970 ESPN Pittsburgh indicate that Ben Roethlisberger recently popped the question to Ashley Harlan, famous for, well, being engaged to Ben Roethlisberger.

Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback has been forgiven by at least one person and apparently Pittsburgh, is the rest of the country ready to forgive Big Ben?

Roethlisberger was suspended for six games this season, later reduced to a four-game ban, for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. The allegations of sexual assault on a woman by Roethlisberger were particularly concerning because it was the second time in just the last few years where such allegations were made.

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While no criminal charges were ever brought against Roethlisberger, clearly the NFL thought that he was guilty of some kind of wrongdoing. In a letter to Roethlisberger handing down the suspension, Roger Goodell wrote:

"I recognize that the allegations in Georgia were disputed and that they did not result in criminal charges being filed against you. My decision today is not based on a finding that you violated Georgia law, or on a conclusion that differs from that of the local prosecutor.

"That said, you are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans."

But in the world of professional sports, it seems that we are so willing to forgive and forget.

Take Kobe Bryant, for example.

The rape allegations of a few years ago have departed from our minds as he has won a couple of championships.

Michael Vick, the most hated athlete in the world just one year ago, is now the most popular athlete in Philadelphia and a story of redemption.

Even Tiger Woods should be able to redeem himself once he starts winning again.

Roethlisberger is just another rung in the ladder of athletes who have conducted themselves less than admirably off the field, yet we are willing to forgive him because...well...because he's a great player.

Congratulations, Big Ben, on your engagement. Maybe settling down will prevent future allegations from coming forward.