Hey ’Cats. Seeing as this is my first column for the Review, I was hoping to spend it writing about the best football team on
Earth (the Oregon Ducks, of course). But recent developments with a certain Duck alumnus directed my interest toward the NFL.
I recently developed an interest in professional football after years of avoiding what my mother once called the “overpaid sissies”
that populate the league. (She has since reformed her opinions, NFL loyal, so no hate mail directed at my dear mother.) But I digress.
I’ve been loosely monitoring former Duck Dennis Dixon since he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers a few years back. Last
season, I cheered for him in his first NFL start (an overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens in which he played admirably), and this week
he was named the Steelers’ starter for the first four games of the season.
After a little more digging into what enabled his sudden ascension, I stumbled on “Big Ben” Roethlisberger’s suspension and
immediately knew what I had to write about.
As the NFL loyal know, “Big Ben” was suspended for 4-6 games by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was accused of
raping a 20-year-old college student during the summer. The accuser claimed Roethlisberger asked the young woman, a worker at a
resort the player was staying at, to check on his TV, which he claimed wasn’t working. He then proceeded to kiss her forcefully, undress
her and force her to have sex with him.
After a quick stint in court, the charges were dropped by the student, who didn’t want to attract too much attention to herself. Shortly
following, the suspension was handed down, and last week it was reduced from six games to four.
In this reporter’s opinion, it wasn’t enough. He shouldn’t ever be allowed to throw a football again.
But let me back up for a second before the handful of Steelers faithful on campus start firebombing my bedroom. While everybody
knows about this incident and it’s still decorating the ESPN.com home page months after it’s occurrence, there is a staggering lack of
any mention of the first time “Big Ben” was accused of rape. That’s right, NFL fans: “Big Ben” can’t keep his “Little Ben” in his pants.
In 2006, he was accused of rape by a similar-aged student in Tahoe. He went to court and the charges were dropped. Sound
On the subject of the more recent charge and subsequent suspension: I can’t blame Goodell for reducing it. As a close friend of
mine pointed out, he wasn’t convicted, so the league couldn’t have justified losing one of its top moneymakers for the full length of the
suspension. What I blame, in this case are the media and the U.S. justice system.
The media want “Big Ben,” and the media are going to get him, even if it means the power of celebrity yet again deludes the
workings of the U.S. justice system. How many times have we seen celebrities dodge major convictions? OJ did it; MJ did it; and now
Roethelisberger has done it, twice.
And that’s not all. After the second rape accusation last summer, dozens of teammates came forward with testimonies about his
terrible locker-room attitude, his hugely inflated ego and his lack of any sort of responsibility. “Big Ben plays for Big Ben” was the
overwhelming message that poured from the Steelers camp.
“Big Ben” has got a very, very big head, because he knows the people want to see him. He knows that he’s a celebrity, and he
knows that he can get away with whatever he wants. Do you see the writing on the wall yet, folks?
Mike Tomlin does. This week he wouldn’t confirm with the media that Roethelisberger will get his starting job back when he returns. I
couldn’t agree more; Dixon is young, talented, has tremendous upside and, unlike “Big Ben,”is a team player. That’s why I think it’s time
to let the clock strike 12 on “Big Ben” and let Dixon take over this Steelers team.
Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.