Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ franchise, 2x super bowl winning QB is suspended for 6 (hopefully 4) games to start the season. Commissioner Roger Goodell says he violated the NFL Personal Conduct Policy. Maybe he did. He certainly didn’t act like a man who makes $15 million a year that night in Milledgeville, Ga. And he certainly didn’t act like a Pittsburgh Steeler… or at least how it’s perceived a Pittsburgh Steeler should act.© 2010 Steelers Universe
However, I have contemplated over and over if a league wide suspension is fair for Ben. He wasn’t convicted of a crime; heck, they didn’t even have probable cause. Yet Goodell has chosen to throw the book at him while others who have been convicted of crimes have not heard a word from the Commissioner. Vincent Jackson of the chargers has been accused twice of DUI and even convicted, yet he has not been suspended. That’s not to say he won’t eventually have to serve some form of suspension, but so far, nothing has been handed down yet. Some are saying Goodell is reacting to media outcry, and, of course, the ever-present playing of the “race card.”
This much we do know – Ben has embarrassed the NFL and the Steelers. He is scheduled to come back from a 4 game suspension after a bye week against the Cleveland Browns, or a 6 game suspension during a nationally televised game against the world champion New Orleans Saints. People will tune in, and the league will make money off of the ratings. Ben is being set up for one hell of a human-interest story.
For Ben’s part, he has not complained. He is doing what is asked of him and saying he wants to turn his life around and is looking forward to a second chance. When he spoke to the media for the first time, he seemed very sincere and thoughtful. I found it endearing that he was nervous to go back to practice and talk to the media again. By all accounts, Ben has lost weight and he has been working hard on and off the field. In the short time he has been back with the team, he has been acting like a man who has been humbled from the whole experience. Maybe he truly did admit that his life was unmanageable and wants to go down a better path. Steelers President Art Rooney II did say they only allowed Ben back because they truly believed he was remorseful. It is well documented that he comes from a good family with good strong values, and rediscovering them may ultimately save his career. I truly believe Ben can change his life around, curb the night life and drunken, frat boy behavior and dedicates himself to this game he says he “loves to death.” It is not an impossible task. Ultimately, the only person that can change Ben Roethlisberger is Ben Roethlisberger. He has to look deep within himself and decide if he truly wants to change – time will be the truest test. Right now, with the wounds he received from a 6 game suspension, it’s very easy to say he wants to change. The man was looking at a minimum of 25 years to life had he been convicted of rape, and if that doesn’t make you want to re-prioritize your life, then nothing will. It won’t be right now, while the Rooneys and the league have their eyes on him, that he will act up. It will be in another 8 months when he is on own and has more free time that will show whether or not he truly is committed to changing his life. He and he alone will have to bear that cross when the time comes.
As a fan, I want to cheer for him. He is an amazing talent and I love watching him on the field. As a mother, I would love nothing more than to see him change his life around and become a great man as well as a great football player. I could tell my son, “you can change - look at Ben Roethlisberger.” And as a woman, I want to respect him. I believe he can – and will - do all that is necessary to turn his life around.
If he is successful, and never again do we hear his name associated with sexual assault charges, will it matter what Goodell did to other players who were arrested or charged? If this whole mess leads to a young man looking within himself and making necessary changes and becoming the leader his team wants and needs him to be, then the politics of the situation won’t matter. The end will justify the means.