When news surfaced that Ben Roethlisberger’s lapse in judgment had became a recurring theme, NFL fans have been waiting to see how Roger Goodell would handle it, especially after Big Ben was able to avoid criminal charges for the second time. Ever since the new Commish took over, he’s had no problem doling out suspensions in an effort to keep the leagues image intact. So much that he usually didn’t wait for matters to be settled in the court of law before stepping in to add his two cents. Nope, good ‘ol Rog looks to Jay’s Vol. 3 for his brand of justice — “Guilty Until Proven Innocent.” He’d rather lessen or rescind the punishment than look like he was putting the leagues profit margin over morality.
When Ben got a pass last year because no charges were filed, fans were on both sides of the fence over Goodell’s decision. Following his previous pattern: no charge = no suspension made sense, to a degree. But no dice for the double whammy, Goodell threw a six game suspension Ben’s way for violating the leagues personal conduct policy. As for the grounds on which he made his decision, Goodell stated:
“I recognize that the allegations in Georgia were disputed and that they did not result in criminal charges being filed against you. My decision today is not based on a finding that you violated Georgia law, or on a conclusion that differs from that of the local prosecutor. That said, you are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans.” [ESPN]
Racial undertones aside, I’m glad Goodell stuck to his guns. In terms of player hierarchy, you can’t rank much higher than a two-time Super Bowl champion for the Pittsburgh Steelers. This sends the ultimate message that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, if you do anything to hurt the image of the NFL you’ll be dealt with. I believe that’s the most important message.
Roger Goodell’s fresh is respected by me.