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Do You Read Me, Roger?
April 23, 2010 - Mike Frank
Earlier this week, NFL "grand poobah" (and native of this fair city) Roger Goodell suspended Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for six games because of accusations about his behavior in a Georgia bar.
To paraphrase Mr. Allen Iverson: we sitting here, talking about not a conviction, not a charge, but RUMOR. We talking about rumors, man!
Maybe I have a natural resistance to judging someone based on rumors and conflicting accounts because I've been putting up with the "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" approach that the national media has been throwing at the Pope.
But to put it short and sweet, Roger blew this call. No charge, no convicton should have meant a fine and sitting out one game, tops.
According to a story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Mr. Goodell levied the punishment on Mr. Roethlisberger for his actions in Georgia even though authorities there, after more than a month of investigating the woman's accusation, declined to bring charges against him. Mr. Roethlisberger thus becomes the first NFL player Mr. Goodell has suspended for violating the league conduct policy even though he was never charged with a crime." (Full article: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10112/1052457-66.stm#ixzz0lyPN3Vsb)
In an AP story Friday, Goodell was quoted thusly, "It's my responsibility to protect our reputation and our integrity. That's what the personal conduct policy is; we all have to be held to a higher standard. It specifically states you don't have to violate the law if there is a pattern of behavior. We go back through all the incidents and try to understand is there is any kind of pattern, and we have enough information to believe he's not making sound judgments at critical points."
What "pattern"? Why, an accusation by woman from a Lake Tahoe, Nevada, resort of sexual assault. Again, no charges and Roethlisberger is counter-suing.
Gee, what POSSIBLE motivation could these two women have to not be completely truthful about their involvement with a professional athlete who signed an eight-year, $102 million contract two years ago?
By the way, let's not forget that the woman from Georgia was 20 and should not have been in the bar. But Goodell doesn't really care (and can't do anything about) HER judgement.
A few weeks ago, Goodell was taking heat because he hadn't ALREADY suspended Roethlisberger, even though the investigation was still active.
"Well, he suspended Pacman Jones and Mike Vick, why not Ben" went the chorus. Translation: If he doesn't whack Roethlisberger, he's a racist.
This is a league that already spends way too much time worrying about regulation of touchdown celebrations and repeatedly goes after Chad Ochocinco, one of the most creative, fun-loving players that the NFL is lucky to have.
If he wants to act in the "best interests" of the game, a la Kenesaw Mountain Landis suspending the Black Sox, well it's his league.
But if I had a challenge flag, it would be flying.
One more quote from Roger, "It reflects poorly on our brand."
No, but this decision does.
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