Those of you who read my thoughts on a regular basis may have noticed I have not wasted much of my time or my publisher’s ink and paper on Ben Roethlisberger’s alleged out of control “sexcapades.” This story is more about the value or non-value of specific players in sports.
I have patiently observed from afar the inner workings of the Steelers coaching staff, ownership and the NFL regarding the off the field, in the bar tribulations of the man who has won two Super Bowls. Well, saying that he won two Super Bowls is stretching the saltwater taffy a bit thin. He participated in one and was outstanding in the other.
There have been players whose lives have been destroyed because they were used as examples to send a message that from all indications has not seemed to have gotten through anyway. The only message that seems to be clear is this. The more marketable you are, the more you may get away with.
In 2008 Steelers All-Pro linebacker James Harrison and ex-Steelers wideout Cedric Wilson were both charged with assault in regards to their “significant” others. The penalties assessed to the two men were as different as night and day.
Wilson’s story supposedly goes something like this. He was arrested on suspicion of assaulting his former girlfriend, Lindsay Paulat. Paulat allegedly told police that “she was sitting inside an establishment on Perry Highway with her boyfriend when Wilson walked in and pushed her right shoulder. She turned around and when she did Wilson punched her in the face.” Paulat said that “Wilson then left the scene.” Wilson was charged with simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct. But wait folks, the saga continues. Less than a month later, Paulat was in a 12-hour standoff with police inside Wilson’s Pine Township home. Wilson had obtained a protection-from-abuse order against Paulat, who by the way is the mother of his then 1-year-old daughter, Anya. According to police records he left the home after she kicked him then sat on the trunk of his car, yelling at him. According to Wilson, Paulat called him distraught and said, “I have a gun and I am going to shoot myself. I shot the gun but missed my head.” Wilson said that she had attempted suicide in the past.
Paulat underwent a psychiatric evaluation after her arrest. “I think, basically, she doesn’t have any mental issues per se. This was just a buildup of a lot of personal issues that caused this meltdown, so to speak,” said Jerome Deriso, Paulat’s attorney. Deriso might have been a little on the naïve side. Anyone who supposedly attempts suicide by allegedly shooting at their head and missing, well you answer the question folks.
I do not recall whether or not the sanity of the alleged victims in either of Roethlisberger’s sexual assault cases has been challenged, but I am reasonably certain these women were perfect strangers. Did anyone mention that in light of his pending suspension that Big Ben has been working with the first team?
Let’s go back to 2008. Harrison was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend at her home. Police reports say that he allegedly broke through the door, broke her cell phone in half and slapped her in the face. Also ex-Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes was given a reprieve after he was busted for allegedly trying to get his “blunt” on. It was only after Holmes “allegedly” baptized a female patron in a bar with a drink after an alleged argument over a seat did Pittsburgh give Santonio his flying papers to Gotham City. As valuable as Holmes was in Pittsburgh, maybe they should have gotten him a medical prescription in California for “ganja” and an off-season “crib” in LA to boot.
Even Steelers owner Dan Rooney could not explain why Cedric Wilson was cut and Harrison was not. The only supposed disparities in the cases were that Harrison used an open hand and Wilson did not. Ladies and gents, there are more differences than that. If Harrison, who is known to be one of the strongest Steelers, had landed a closed fisted blow to his girlfriend, folks it is not hard to imagine a more serious injury occurring. Forget about double standards. Let’s call this “standards on the fly.” Bad calls happen on and off the field.
Cedric Wilson did not deserve the hand that was dealt to him. The Steelers do not deserve the hand that was dealt to them by Ben Roethlisberger. By not being able to keep his zipper up, he let his team down. Roethlisberger should not be practicing or playing with the Steelers first, second or third team in 2010. He should be performing with the “couch” team. As far as I am concerned until the punishment fits the crime, “no justice no peace.”
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)