Ben Roethlisberger now has a wing man on the Pittsburgh "Feelhers". Wide receiver Santonio Holmes has joined his quarterback with his off-the-field activities that is leaving the Steelers looking more like their division rival Bengals than a six-time Super Bowl winning franchise.
Holmes, a former Super Bowl MVP, allegedly hit a woman in the face with a glass at an Orlando nightclub and then offered to pay her so she wouldn't press charges. Anshonoe Mills claimed in a lawsuit filed Wed. that Holmes grabbed her face and threw the glass at her because she was sitting on a couch in the Rain Night Club's VIP section on March 7.
Holmes, who has not been charged in the alleged incident, says he "didn't do anything" and expects the matter to be dealt in a relatively quick manner.
Steelers' president Art Rooney II said in a statement that the team is "disappointed" by the accusations made in the lawsuit. Rooney said he would not comment any further until the team gathers more information on the situation.
All this comes just merely a month after Roesthlisberger's second sexual assault accusation in the bathroom of Capital City, a Milledgevile, GA nightclub. His first lawsuit came almost a year ago from Andrea McNulty, who claimed that the two-time Super Bowl winner had assaulted her in Reno, NV.
The important word to remember in all of these cases is "allegedly". Nothing has been reported as true acts, however, the coverage of these stories have already left their mark on the Steelers.
These actions don't seem to fit the Steelers, a no-nonsense working man's team, and their coach Mike Tomlin, who appeared to run a tight ship. They seem more fitting of their rival Cincinnati Bengals, who in 2006 had eight players facing a total of 15 lawsuits. After coming off an impressive 11-5 record in 2005, the Bengals were hoping to build off that season in '06, but found out that the off-the-field issues were too much to overcome-among other things as well.
Do the recent allegations against Roethlisberger and Holmes present a similar obstacle that the Steelers will have to climb as the start of the 2010 season approaches? Certainly, however, I suspect Mike Tomlin and the Steelers' organization have a better handle on their players than the Bengals.
When asked about the topic, Tomlin told reporters: "It's safe to say all of us are held to an extremely high standard; it's a privilege to be part of the NFL. We're all fortunate and blessed to be part of the NFL and, specifically, the Pittsburgh Steelers."
While the jury is still out in the allegations made against the star Steelers' players, they already faced the media backlash and the negative spotlight that comes with a high-profile lawsuit.
Holmes and Roethlisberger join a slew of other professional athletes who have recently been held accountable for their off-the-field actions. In an age where the fans are closer to the players than ever before; what a player does on the field can be lessened by what he or she does off of it.
It is their responsibility to not only be a role model through their level of play, but how they conduct themselves after the clock reads "00:00" as well. And in the case of Holmes and Roethlisberger, not only have they tarnished their own images, but they have also hurt the reputation of the highly respected Pittsburgh Steelers' organization.
At least the Steelers dropped loud-mouth LB Joey Porter before allegedly completing the triple crown of legal offenses: driving under the influence, resisting arrest, and assaulting an officer.