Los Angeles Times
On the where-there's-smoke-there's-fire scale, Big Ben is smokier than a teachers' lounge. He hasn't been convicted of anything, true, but that's not the standard by which the NFL suspends its employees. Under the league's personal conduct policy, discipline may be imposed in lots of different circumstances, including with conduct that "undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs or NFL players."
Roethlisberger admitted to doing just that in his prepared apology Monday, acknowledging the "negative attention" he has brought on his teammates, the Rooney family and the league.
Because there's no conviction here, it's most likely the suspension will come from the Steelers for conduct detrimental to the team. The Rooneys are said to be furious about Ben's inability to stay out of the headlines. I predict Roethlisberger will be suspended by the Steelers for two games.
No charge, no penalty
Here is the problem with Ben Roethlisberger: He isn't some second-string guard who is unrecognizable to most of the world without a jersey number. Roethlisberger is one of the faces of the NFL, and he has a big, round bull's-eye on his back.
His behavior certainly has cast the Steelers in a bad light, so some critics are expecting a severe punishment. But Roethlisberger needs to be treated like every other player in the league, and really, every other American. In this country, you are innocent until proven guilty. Roethlisberger was not convicted of a crime. He was not even charged with one.
So other than getting a stern talking to from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Roethlisberger probably will escape the pressure again this time.
2-game ban a must
Anything less than a two-game suspension is a meaningless slap on the wrist. And if the Steelers were disgruntled enough to trade Santonio Holmes for his alleged indiscretion, then they should step up and suspend Roethlisberger themselves, not wait for Commissioner Roger Goodell to do the deed. The difference between a wide receiver and a franchise quarterback is the biggest reason Roethlisberger will keep his job and Holmes didn't.
It is fact Roethlisberger was not charged with a crime. But to listen to the published details of the latest incident — plying the young woman with shots and having a bodyguard cover for him outside the bathroom — is to ponder the definition of predator.
He should consider himself fortunate to get off with a two-game suspension.
Public shame sufficient
The trick in this question is that it suggests Roger Goodell should be suspending players for being idiots.
Criminals, sure. Performance-enhancing drugs users, fine. But what's the fitting penalty for being an idiot the way Ben Roethlisberger acted with a college coed? What penalty would make him, "grow up," as the district attorney suggested he most needed.
The penalty of public shame is bad enough here. Headlines. Talk shows. Will two games make Roethlisberger grow up? Four? Six? Do I hear eight?
See, the question isn't how many games Goodell should suspend Roethlisberger. It's if Roethlisberger hasn't learned a lesson through public shaming, what's a four-game suspension going to teach?