Big Ben deserves big suspension

September 14, 2010 — by Roy Bisht and Cullan McChesney

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is having his suspension reduced by two games for “good behavior.” But since when are two separate rape allegations considered “good behavior”?

When Roethlisberger was accused of this crime for the second time earlier this year, many fans expected that the Steelers’ beloved “Big Ben” would be suspended for the season, dashing the team’s playoff hopes. Instead, Roethlisberger ended up with only a four-game suspension. Yes, you heard correctly, only four games for sexual assault.

During the first accusation, Roethlisberger was faced with the accusation of raping a hotel employee in Tahoe, Nev. Even though the charges were dropped months later, after not even evidence was found to support the harassment claim, Roethlisberger’s once-saintly image in the Steel City was ruined. It took months for him to re-build his image, but once gain, rape chargers entered his life as he was accused of assaulting a 20-year-old college student in Milledgeville, Ga. Both accusations were eventually dropped, but the NFL had no choice but to punish him.

Roethlisberger could have easily been innocent in both charges, but he should not have even put himself in a situation that needs a legal action. As a professional athlete in such an elite football league, Roethlisberger should understand the impact of such situations, and he failed to recognize that.

Originally suspending Roethlisberger for six games, commissioner Roger Goodell shortened the already-abbreviated suspension to four. As if that’s short enough, the league might as well take away the entire suspension while they’re at it. How does four games without playing teach a player that multiple sexual assault charges is unethical? The obvious truth is that it doesn’t.

As a professional athlete, especially one who has been in the spotlight for years, Roethlisberger should have known the consequences of his actions. Unfortunately, a four-game suspension will not do much to teach him about consequences either.

The suspension was already short enough as it was, so why must it be reduced? In a letter to Roethlisberger, Goodell stated that “[Roethlisberger’s] actions over the past several months have been consistent with that promise and [he] must continue to honor that commitment.” Sure Roethlisberger has had consistent actions over the past few months, but he also did during the eight-month period between the first and second accusation.

Even if he has recently shown better behavior, a four-game suspension is no punishment for a second accusation of a crime as serious as sexual assault. Goodell should have realized this when he made the original suspension. In fact, even that was too small of a punishment for Roethlisberger.

With the current suspension—or lack of—don’t be surprised if Roethlisberger finds himself in another courtroom within the next nine months.