On Monday, it became official that Ben Roethlisberger would not be charged with any crime(s) in relation to an alleged sexual assault that occurred at a Milledgeville, Georgia nightclub on the night of March 5. I think anyone who even remotely paid attention to this case saw this coming. The district attorney said as much. Unlike other cases (see: O.J. Simpson) this doesn’t seem like’s it’s just a big-time athlete getting let off the hook – not to me, at least. After reading the (local) D.A.’s statement, it simply appears that evidence was rather sparse and there simply wasn’t enough of it for Roethlisberger to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
So Big Ben dodges another bullet, mostly. Earlier, a Pittsburgh sponsor dropped Roethlisberger as a spokesman, and subsequently will have to rebrand “Big Ben’s Beef Jerky.” Unless the accuser decides to pursue a civil remedy, that’s probably about as bad as it’s going to get for Ben in this sense.
One can’t help but be troubled by this, however. This is the second time Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault, with the previous accusation being brought to him in the form of a civil lawsuit in Nevada. Admittedly, when the first one came out, I was decidedly skeptical of the accuser. For one, the lawsuit came out at least weeks (maybe months…my memory is not clear on the details) after the alleged assault. Then details came out that that the alleged victim bragged about having sex with Roethlisberger, so there were character issues as well. Don’t get me wrong, I always thought of Roethlisberger as a bit of a numskull after his motorcycle accident (which nearly cost him his career), but not to the level where he would sexually assault a woman.
Now I’m not quite so sure. To have a second allegation come against him in the period of a year should, and has, raised the eyebrows of many. Here, the allegations were brought the night the assault was said to have taken place, and there was enough evidence to conduct a full-scale investigation. Regardless if the sexual assault occurred or not, my question to Ben is: why keep getting yourself in these situations?
A part of me gets it. He’s a young, famous guy who can go to any bar he wants and get practically mauled by hordes of beautiful women. Sign me up for that! Here’s the thing though: I’m not Ben Roethlisberger. I’m not one of the faces of a multi-billion dollar institution, like the NFL. I’m not necessarily supposed to be a role model – someone the kids aspire to be. I’m just a dude. Ben Roethlisberger, I’m sorry, but you’re not “just a dude.”
And I may be just a dude, but I’m not stupid enough to help an underage (in legal age to drink terms) girl get drunk, especially a girl who reportedly “wore a shirt reading DTF” – according to the district attorney. (Note: for those of you unfamiliar with DTF, just google it or check out Urban Dictionary. I can’t print it here.) Seriously Ben, that is just asking for trouble.
I’m sure there are a number of people within the Steelers’ organization that just want to throw a big bucket of ice water on Roethlisberger and shake him and yell “Snap out of it!” Hell, I don’t particularly like him and I want to do it, just so there’s that much less of a chance that he throws his career, and potentially his life, away.
Terry Bradshaw, arguably the greatest player in Steelers history, addressed the matter today while basically echoed this sentiment. What I thought was most interesting was his revelation that he and Ben don’t get along very well, since Terry apparently made a comment about “parking the motorcycle” (Note: referring to Ben’s actual motorcycle, not a sexual innuendo of any sort. Just thought I just sort that out.) His exact words were: “And since then… he doesn’t like me, and I’m learning to not like him.”
It’s becoming a pretty popular sentiment.