Thursday, April 29, 2010

How the NFL suspended Big Ben for doing what they told him (and you) to do

The NFL recently suspended Ben Roethlisberger for 6 (maybe more, maybe less) games.  Here's some of what the commissioner said in his announcement:

"I recognize that the allegations in Georgia were disputed and that they did not result in criminal charges being filed against you," Goodell wrote in a letter to Roethlisberger, according to the NFL's announcement. "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"

Simply put, that's a lie.

If the NFL did not find anything different than the local prosecutor, than Roethlisberger's actions are perfectly consistent with the values of the league.

First let's look at what the Georgia prosecutor said, because it was quite revealing.  They didn't say, we are not going to charge Ben because we don't have enough to convict him.  They didn't say simply that we are not going to charge him and leave it at that.  Here's what he said:

The allegations "cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," Bright said during an afternoon press conference. "Therefore there will be no arrest made nor criminal prosecution against Mr. Roethelisberger."
Bright said "significant questions ... persist" about what happened between Roethlisberger and the alleged victim, but there just isn't enough evidence for him to bring charges. "We don't even have for probable cause," Bright said.
That last part- we don't even have for probable cause- is far more revealing than pretty much anyone has reported.  To convict someone, you need to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  That's a pretty high burden.  Often times a prosecutor might have enough to charge, but not enough to convict, so they don't charge.  But that's not the case here.  You need probable cause to charge, and they didn't have it.  So what's probable cause:

A set of facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime has probably been committed and this person probably did it.

That's not a lot.

So what the DA said is that either (A) the facts show that a crime may have been committed but Ben probably did NOT it or (B)  there probably wasn't any crime committed by anyone at all.

That's a far cry from how most of the media has reported it.

So if there's no crime, what did Roethlisberger do?  He was at a bar, so it might be reasonable to think he was drinking.  Ben hasn't confirmed or denied it, but for the sake of argument lets say he had relations with the alleged victim.  So he was drinking beer and having sex.  In other words he was following NFL policy to a T.

A guy goes into a bar with his buddies, gets hammered and hooks up with a coed.

That could be e teaser for anyone of the so-called "sit-coms" that the NFL advertises during broadcasts of their games.

The league has been metaphorically pouring beer down the throats of its fans since before Bud-bowl was an original idea.

What's that you say?  You can't hold the NFL accountable for the broadcast network's advertising decisions?  Ok, lets look at the league itself.

Tom Brady wasn't suspended for abandoning his pregnant model girlfriend to be with another non-pregnant model girlfriend.  So, out of wedlock sex, even if it causes some sort of scandal (at least as far as our society scandalizes anyone for out of wedlock sex anymore) is NOT grounds for suspension in the NFL.

Surely drinking beer isn't ground for suspension.

Oh, Ben demeaned and objectified women, particularly young women?  Surely that would be grounds for suspension.

One word.  Cheerleaders.

26 of the 32 NFL teams suit up young women in less clothes than the natives wear in National Geographic hand have them prance up and down the field every game day.  Why?  Because the league wants its fans to imagine have sex with these ladies.

So like I said, IF Roethlisberger ended up having sex with a drunken college coed in a bar, it seems he did exactly what the NFL has been telling people to do for years.  That's why the commissioner's moralizing about suspending Ben for Ben's own good and sending him off to reeducation training ring hollow.

Here's what the Commish could have said:

I am suspending Mr. Roethlisberger for the first 6 games of the upcoming season, because the league's PR and marketing executives have advised me that failure to issue such a suspension could result in a decrease in revenues.

That at least would have been honest.

1 comment:

Mike Tomashewski said...

I think the most disturbing thing with this is that Goodell is setting a precedent to suspend players if they put themselves in bad situations. Not that they caused bad situations, just that they were present when something uncomfortable happened.

I'm shocked that the NFLPA is not fighting this tooth and nail, since this means that the commish can suspend anyone who is in any sort of detrimental situation, no matter their guilt or innocence.