Big Ben may be avoiding criminal charges but the NFL and Steelers won’t let him off completely.
It won’t go away Ben Roethlisberger may be out of the woods on the criminal front but his troubles are far from over. The length and detail of the statement by Fred Bright, the district attorney handling the alleged sexual assault case against the Pittsburgh quarterback, made sure of that. Bright provided enough details on the evening which are not in doubt, including that he bought a round of shots for an already inebriated group of young women, that while Big Ben is coming out of this without criminal charges the story will continue to run until some public action is taken to punish Roethlisberger.
While on it’s own the incident might not result in a penalty for Big Ben, the litany of mistakes he has made off the field since winning the first of his two Super Bowl rings means the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers organisation will have to act in order to show that they have control over the quarterback.
Need to appease There’s not shortage of people that will need to be appeased in the wake of this latest brouhaha. Women’s groups will surely expect some kind of punishment to be meted out by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in order to show that the league holds its players to a higher standard. Likewise after punishing Larry Johnson and Pacman Jones for incidents where they weren’t charged, Goodell will need to show that he uses the same fair hand with all his players. The Steelers too will be under pressure to show that Roethlisberger doesn’t get a walk just days after trading Santonio Holmes due to his transgressions.
The exit of Holmes and the likely suspension of Roethlisberger may affect the on-the-field chances for the Steelers 2010, with a guaranteed drop in backers in NFL betting, but the off-field issues must be addressed to ensure the long-term health of the the franchise.
Punishment won’t be a problem It’s actually easier for the NFL and the Steelers to punish Roethlisberger now that it’s been confirmed he won’t be prosecuted. While the investigation was still ongoing it would have been risky to take action as any punishment could have unfairly influenced public opinion ahead of a possible trial. Now that worry is out of the way Goodell can use his powers which allow him to punish players for behaviour which taints the reputation of the NFL. Expect Goodell to hand down at least a one game suspension and don’t be surprised if the Steelers add another game to that as well. The organisation will want to send a message to fans and players alike that it is taking the matter seriously and some form of direct punishment from the franchise would help to do that.
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