For years the running joke in the NFL has been the extensive criminal records of the Cincinnati Bengals. Owner/G.M. Mike Brown has been given the "redeemer" tag on many occasions. He loves to take the high risk/high reward players. He ignores the off-the-field stuff.
But over the past three years, it has been their division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have been making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Let's start with the most obvious.
QB Ben Roethlisberger has been involved in some sort of controversy in three of the past five off-seasons. First it was the reckless driving of a motorcycle without a helmet. How can a guy with the concussion problems of Big Ben not wear one?
Roethlisberger did not have a valid Pennsylvania motorcycle license at the time of the accident, only a temporary permit that he had obtained after moving to Pittsburgh which had expired four months earlier. Roethlisberger would later say in interviews that paramedics on the scene stopped the bleeding in his throat just in time to save his life.
Last July Roethlisberger was accused of sexually assaulting Harrah's casino executive Andrea McNulty, 31, in his hotel room while he was in Lake Tahoe for a celebrity golf tournament. He allegedly called her into his room to fix his T.V. When she determined it was working just fine he blocked her from leaving and began kissing her. According to the lawsuit, McNulty required hospitalization for depression after the alleged attack.
Last week, a 20 year-old female has accused him of sexual assault at a college bar in Milledgeville, Ga. KDKA, the CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh, reported Roethlisberger told police he did not have sexual intercourse with the woman. He said he had contact with the woman and afterward she slipped and fell, injuring her head.
He may be innocent of the two allegations, but either way his reputation has taken a massive hit over the past year. But he seemingly doesn't care, he continues to put himself in situations that turn into a "he said, she said" ordeal. The latest charge could turn into a painfully drawn out case that sucks millions of dollars in court fees and advertising away from Big Ben
I'm sure he will get out of the charges because he has money, and power, but he has certainly lost everyone's respect.
The QB grabs the headlines, but what about other Steeler mishaps?
Santonio Holmes was busted for smoking marijuana mid-season in 2008, not to mention his domestic violence charges in '06 that were later dropped. All was forgiven when he won Super Bowl MVP.
The kicker Jeff Reed is a one man disorderly conduct storm, collecting two separate charges over the past year. One was for destroying a gas station bathroom.
In March 2008, star LB James Harrison was arrested and charged with simple assault and criminal mischief stemming from a domestic altercation with his girlfriend.
Those are just the current players. Check out the rap sheets on former players (not including the infamous Plaxico Burress).
TE Johnathan Dekker was arrested in January 2009 and charged with obstruction of justice. In March 2008, WR Cedrick Wilson is arrested for simple assault, harassment, and disorderly conduct.
In June 2007, a 19 year-old woman accused LB Richard Siegler of spending several months persuading her to become a prostitute, and he took the first $450 she earned. Najeh Davenport was charged with child endangering, domestic violence, and unlawful restraint after a dispute with the mother of his son in October 2007.
All the above players were cut soon after the charges were filed. The Rooney family sends a loud an clear message: Don't get arrested or you will be cut... unless you are a good player. But since their reputation isn't like the Bengals, fans around the country look at each incident and are surprised.
With the Bengals the general consensus is "just another Bengal arrest". Well it's time for that perception to change. The Bengals did have the Rey Maualuga DUI setback, but other than that they have been quiet in the police blotter for the past three years.
In the past thee years, it's the Pittsburgh Steelers that are making the headlines off the field.