The Ben Roethlisberger Situation: Not a Race Issue for Goodell

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IMarch 28, 2010

MIAMI - JANUARY 03:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks back to the huddle after injuring his shoulder in the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Miami, Florida. The Steelers defeated the Dolphins 30-24.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

In an article on ESPN.com , Jemele Hill attempts to compare the recent allegations against Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger with those of Pacman Jones and Michael Vick.

Meanwhile, she wonders why NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has failed to act, implying that race is the reason.

Look, that is bull and here is why.

First of all, comparing Roethlisberger's situation with those of repeat offenders like Pacman and the horrendous actions of a Mike Vick are ludicrous. It's apples and oranges.


Vick was already charged and had appeared in court before Goodell did anything.

Pacman Jones was arrested or questioned by police multiple times in multiple states and was charged with felonies in two states before he was suspended.

Second, even if he wanted to do something, just what can Goodell legally do at this point?

It's a case of "he said, she said" and as the author herself notes, no charges have been brought officially.

Granted, once this is all over, if Roethlisberger is found guilty, he should do his time and face his punishments. And, as the article notes, since he has brought embarrassment to the league he probably should face some punishment even if not convicted.

If that does not happen, then there is a valid argument. But not now.

I understand that the black community is talking about this, and the author is reacting to the chatter.

But keep in mind that Tank Johnson wasn't suspended until after he was out of jail and Chris Henry was arrested four times before he was suspended!

And hey, last I checked, these were black athletes.

Meanwhile, why does race have to be injected into every issue? This issue has absolutely nothing to do with race.

Goodell has been dealing with labor issues and owner meetings since this whole matter has started.

Further, while the author says Pacman was suspended less than two months after his Vegas incident, keep in mind that it hasn't even been three weeks since the Roethlisberger situation occurred.

Admittedly, Rothlisberger has a history of bad decisions (motorcycle accident, for ex.) and has a civil case pending, but he has not been charged yet.

Gee, maybe the Commish is waiting until an actual charge is brought against Roethlisberger before acting. If so, wouldn't that be the prudent thing to do?

We all should recognize that prejudice still rears its ugly head in this world and sports are certainly not exempt to its presence.

But to make this a racial issue is to dilute the real racial issues confronting our society.

In fact, if I were black, I would almost be offended by an article like this, for it only serves as fodder for White America to insist that the race card is often overplayed.

The issue here is not whether Roethlisberger is guilty or not. It's whether the lack of action by Goodell represents an act of racism.

And for that, I find this article premature at best.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.