Ben Roethlisberger is lucky that he’s one of the elite quarterbacks in the National Football League.
He’s lucky that he has the gift to talk. He’s lucky that his personality is so endearing. He’s lucky that the police department in Milledgeville Georgia is about as competent at investigating a crime as my 6-year-old daughter.
Most of all, Roethlisberger should drop to his knees each and every night and thank the good lord for his skin color. Because if he were African-American, I’m not sure he’d be a free man right now.
On the surface, this seemed to be just another rape allegation that couldn’t produce enough evidence. That’s what we saw in the press conference when Fred Bright, a Georgia District Attorney, declined topress charges when a 20-year-old Georgia and State student claimed that he forced her to have sex against her will.
But the details that have arisen since then have been nothing short of alarming. Packed in the witness statement is the allegation that Roethlisberger approached the college student with “his penis out of his pants”, and followed her into the bathroom of the nightclub where he, “had sex with me”, despite her objections.
So here’s the question: Based on the details, if Ben Roethlisberger were, say, Michael Vick, or Ray Lewis, or any of the NFL stars who have been previously vilified for “thuggish” behavior in the past, what would’ve happened on that night?
“I think the NFL would’ve behaved the same,” said Bomani Jones, a Duke faculty member and a sports radio host. “But it’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t have been taken to the police station if he had been black.”
In my mind, Roethlisberger is only the latest high profile white athlete to benefit from the good ole’ boy network. Yes, he’s been suspended by the NFL for 4-6 games, depending on his behavior. Yes, he stands to lose as much as $2.8 million in wages. Yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers may trade him. No he hasn’t been charged with a crime. And yes, NFL Commissionerr Roger Goodell saved some face by handing down what’s perceived as a stiff punishment for embarrassing the league.
But Vick lost the prime of his career, a $20 million signing bonus, was thrown in jail and suspended by the league for killing dogs.
Being that this isn’t the first time that Roethlisberger’s been accused of sexual misconduct, the moral of the story seems to be that it’s better to be accused of a sex crime than a crime against Lassie.
To me, there’s something wrong with that picture.
To me, Roethlisberger should be suspended for the entire season, without pay. Based on the witness statement, he clearly should’ve been arrested on the spot. He should’ve been forced to submit a DNA sample. He should’ve been forced to grant a second interview with police, even with a lawyer present.
No doubt, Big Ben dodged a big bullet with this inquiry not resulting in an indictment. And that’s not open to debate.
“He should’ve been taken in and booked,” said James Cordova, a high school football coach out of Salt Lake City Utah. “He’s extremely lucky that he wasn’t put into the back of a police car.”
Much like Adam “Pac Man” Jones, Roethlisberger needs to stay out of nightclubs. He needs to lay low, and have his come-to-Jesus moment just like any other disgraced professional athlete. He needs to stay out of the public eye and then have a tearful press conference before football season starts in September.
Maybe that will rehabilitate his image a bit. To me, however, the fact that multiple sexual assault allegations have been brought against him speaks to a bigger issue. And he needs to get help for whatever this issue is immediately.
As they say: 50 million Elvis fans can’t all be wrong.