Commish goes easy on Roethlisberger

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws a pass against the New York Giants during...

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws a pass against the New York Giants during their game on August 21, 2010. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell determined yesterday that Ben Roethlisberger is a nicer man today than he was last spring.

Essentially, that’s what his ruling seems to say, after he reduced Roethlisberger’s suspension from six to four games.

Why this is fair seems a bit difficult to understand.

Roethlisberger was suspended in April for violating the league’s personal conduct policy when he was accused of sexually assaulting a Georgia college student following a night of drinking in a Milledgeville, Ga., bar on March 5.

He was not charged by Georgia authorities when the student declined to take legal action. But local law authorities deplored Roethlisberger’s actions and the quarterback admitted he had used bad judgement.

So, he was suspended for six games. It should’ve stayed that way. There are those who believe, rightly or wrongly, that he’s lucky not to be facing jail time.

Goodell said he’d review the suspension if Roethlisberger behaved himself. But if his actions warranted a six-game suspension in April, why are those actions less reprehensible five months later. Bad then, is bad now.

Goodell is also setting himself up for criticism on the race issue that still lingers almost everywhere in America. There will be some who look at the ruling and argue this is just another example of why black athletes feel they are sometimes still discriminated against.

If Michael Vick can lose years of his career for hurting dogs, it seems a little unbalanced that Roethlisberger can hurt a person and get away with a four-game sentence and a pat on the back from the commissioner telling the world what a nice guy he’s become.

Last time we checked people said Vick was a pretty sweet guy, too.

True, Vick was convicted; Roethlisberger was not. But neither has Roethlisberger been a shiny example of athletic virtue. In fact, a recent Sports Illustrated article documents a prima-donna lifestyle. It tells of a man who seems to think that when it comes to him, the rules of society are just suggestions.

It wasn’t even his first misadventure with the opposite sex. He’s being sued in Nevada by a woman who says he sexually assaulted her there in 2008. No charges were brought in that case either, and it did not figure in the NFL’s suspension.

“Ben has done a good job this summer of growing as the person that he needs to be, both on and off the field. I am confident that Ben is committed to continuing in this positive direction,” team president Art Rooney, who was angered by Roethlisberger’s actions, said yesterday.

In the meeting, the quarterback was described as contrite. He should be. But the question is, in having the suspension reduced, somewhere in the back of Roethlisberger’s ego is it whispering to him that, yet again, he’s put one over on the rest of the world? Just wondering.


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