FILE - In this Jan. 5, 2008 file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reacts as the Jacksonville Jaguars kick a game-winning field goal during the fourth quarter of an NFL wild card playoff football game in Pittsburgh. A 20-year-old college student has accused Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her at a nightclub early Friday, March 5, 2010, during a night on the town near where he owns a lake home. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Big Ben avoided criminal charges stemming from an accusation of sexual assault, but the Pittsburgh Steeler's quarterback might still be in big trouble.
What effect will those unflattering revelations have on Roethlisberger's future in the NFL?
Mike Florio of Sporting News thinks the Steelers, a franchise known for its winning tradition as much as its insistence on player integrity, might actually trade away the talented but troubled QB. "Last week's Santonio Holmes fire sale, which arose when the Steelers called around the league in an effort to find an immediate trade partner, occurred when the team initiated the process. This time around, the Steelers will sit back and see whether anyone makes an offer between now and the draft, which launches a week from today."
Sports Illustrated's NFL insider, Peter King, noted that the quarterback was never formally charged with any crime but "make no mistake -- he's done plenty wrong...it's beyond bad judgment." "The Steelers, rightfully, are ashamed," King writes and should suspend their star for two games "without pay. Or, better yet, with the pay donated to Pittsburgh-area women's shelters."
Sean Pendergast writing for the Hair Balls blog seems to urge no punishment for Roethlisberger despite the evidence that the "evening in Milledgeville, GA had an unsavory feel to them to be sure." "If [NFL Commissioner] Goodell suspends Roethlisberger even just for one game, he's essentially suspending him for stupidity, and for being a wanna-be frat boy at age 28," Pendergast writes. "What Goodell would be saying is either (a) he doesn't believe Ben's denials on the assault charges, or more likely (b) 'I'm Roger Goodell, I'll suspend you if I want to suspend you.'"
Jay Mariotti, of FanHouse, insists that Goodell suspend Roethlisberger four games to set an example. "If Goodell has the latitude under the league's personal conduct policy to suspend a player because he has undermined the NFL's image, then Roethlisberger should sit at least four games this season. Perhaps then, once and for all, it will plant a permanent seed that a player -- especially one with a high profile -- has a responsibility not to act like a goon who randomly would pick up a college woman and meet up with her by the commode," he writes.