This has nothing to do with the Green Bay Packers, but Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the talk of the NFL this week after a district attorney in Georgia decided not to file sexual assault charges against the two-time Super Bowl champion.
A 20-year-old college student had accused Big Ben of sexually assaulting her in the bathroom of a Georgia nightclub last month. In a press conference Monday afternoon, District Attorney Fred Bright said there wasn’t enough evidence to file charges, also revealing the accuser no longer wanted him to prosecute.
“Here the overall circumstances do not lead to a viable prosecution. If they did, I would be pursuing it vigorously,” Bright said. “We do not prosecute morals. We prosecute crimes.”
It’s a good thing, too.
Because if there’s one thing football fans are learning about Big Ben, it’s this: he’s not a good guy. In fact, he’s a pretty despicable guy — particularly when he’s drunk.
No one really knows what happened in that dingy club bathroom, but we do know the accuser was out partying with her sorority sisters that night when one of Roethlisberger’s body guards guided her down a back hallway and into that bathroom. Roethlisberger soon followed.
During a hospital exam, doctors found the woman sustained a “superficial laceration and slight bleeding in the genital area.” Tests indicated the presence of male DNA.
Criminal charges aside, Big Ben’s behavior has damaged the integrity and reputation of the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who recently traded troubled wide receiver Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets in what some see as a statement the team won’t stand for repeated bad behavior. Holmes will sit out the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy at least three times.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is scheduled to meet with Roethlisberger sometime this week. Under the league’s personal conduct policy, Goodell has the power to suspend Roethlisberger even though he hasn’t been charged with a crime.
So what should Big Ben’s punishment be? If anything?
Fox Sports’ Mark Kriegel advocates for a two-game suspension, while former New York Giants’ wideout Amani Toomer feels the QB should be benched for at least half the season, citing cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones’ season-long suspension in 2007 following several brushes with the law.
“I’m interested to see what’s going to happen with Roger Goodell, because there’s precedent in this situation with Pacman Jones,” Toomer said. “He never got convicted of anything, but he got arrested a lot of times. What is (Goodell) going to do?”
Adding flames to the fire, this isn’t the first time Big Ben has been accused of sexual assault. He’s being sued by another woman who says he raped her in 2008 at a Lake Tahoe resort and casino, an allegation Roethlisberger denies.
At the very least, Roethlisberger’s shenanigans warrant a multiple-game suspension. The number isn’t really important. It’s the message behind it.
Big Ben may not be guilty of a crime, but he’s proven he’s as dumb as he looks. And it’s that aura of invincible stupidity — which seems to abound in professional athletes — that must be taken down a notch. Or five.