Star QB Ben Roethlisberger is in his third scrape since joining the team as a rookie. First there was the motorcycle accident that cost him a chunk of the preseason and slowed him early in 06. At the time he was not wearing a helmet. Most teams have included in their contracts a prohibition of “dangerous” activities for key players. Those conditions usually include riding motorcycles.
Then last year he was accused of sexual battery by a woman in Las Vegas. The woman was a worker at a casino and reportedly was asked by Roethlisberger to come to his room and fix a TV. She claims that Roethlisberger prevented her from leaving the room and forced her to have sex. The woman in that case did not go to a hospital or immediately inform police of the incident. According to reports, the woman decided against filing a criminal complaint but did file a civil suit against the QB. While Roethlisberger insisted he had done nothing wrong, there was a confidential settlement, presumably including a payment of some sort, with his accuser.
Again this off season, a 20 year old college student has accused Roethlisberger of sexual assault that reportedly occurred in a ladies bathroom in a bar in Milledgeville Georgia. The QB has a home in the area. This time the accuser both reported the alleged attack immediately and got treatment in a local hospital. The police took a report and are investigating. The police have requested a DNA sample from Roethlisberger.
Reportedly, there was video tape coverage of everything that happened or did not happen in the area of the bathroom. However, that tape mysteriously got taped over before it could be viewed by local police despite the fact that the bar security guy told a local TV station that they do not recycle tapes. Another twist to the story is that Roethlisberger was accompanied to the bar by 3 lawmen including 2 off duty Pennsylvania State Highway Patrol officers and a local deputy sheriff that was on duty at the time. It was the latter that took the original complaint from the accuser.
Steelers WR Santonio Holmes has been accused of assault by a Florida woman. She claims that he threw a glass of alcohol in her face on March 7 at the Rain Night Club in Orlando. While Orlando police refused to take a report, she has filed a civil lawsuit. Art Rooney 2 issued the following statement: “We are disappointed to learn about the recent incident involving Santonio Holmes in Florida. While we are continuing to gather the facts, I cannot comment further until we have more information and have spoken to Santonio and his representatives.” Reportedly Holmes offered the woman some money but nothing was paid to her at the time. Now the suit asks for 15K which is not a lot of money given his income.
We don’t have much more information about this incident but the issues that the Steelers are facing point out two things. First, every team in the league is more worried about their players doing something stupid in the off season than getting hurt in the off season OTAs. Of course that does not apply to Mangini allowing a player to run a contact drill without shoulder pads like he did with RB Davis last year.
The Steelers have been known as a high character and tight discipline team. We have not seen this from Pittsburgh before. So why now?
Frankly, it has nothing to do with Pittsburgh. The entire world has very little discipline or good judgment. Just look at the pinheads we send to Washington. A regular part of any sports broadcast could be devoted to the police blotter. Sports, politics, movies and music stars all seem to be lacking judgment. So what is the common factor? Youth.
The combination of a lot of money and a lack of age and experience can be a dangerous. Every pro league has this problem. Not only are very young rich men likely to put themselves in questionable situations but they are targets for anyone looking for a quick buck. As the economy gets worse, players are going to have to realize that more and more non-players are looking for just that kind of opportunity. There are also a gaggle of money hungry ambulance chasing lawyers that will talk accusers into filing a suit.
Players have to show better judgment than to put themselves in a situation where they are alone with women or in a position to be accused of inappropriate behavior. I can not understand why at his age he would be going to a college bar and inviting co-eds under 21 back to a VIP room for free drinks. What part of that seemed like a good idea at the time? If he showed that same kind of decision making on the field, he would be a 3rd string QB.
All pro leagues need to do a better job reminding players not to put themselves into these kind of situations. Unions need to be reminding players as well. DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA and his counterparts in the other player unions need to not only make annual presentations to the rookies but also to the vets. Parents should have taught their kids better as well.
None of us know what happened in any of these cases or who is telling the truth and who is not. Thank God in the US everyone is innocent until proven guilty. But the leagues, teams and the players take PR hits any time something like this happens. Given the future financial struggles of pro sports, no team can afford to lose even a few fans due to accusations of bad behavior.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think and thanks for checking our site out.
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Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on
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