The sports world is all atwitter over the news that between 2009-2011 New Orleans Saints players and their Offensive Coordinator Gregg Williams participated in a ‘bounty program.’ This program rewarded players thousands of dollars to make big hits on their opponents.
Gasp! Excuse me if I don’t pass out from shock.
The reason why this story has turned into a big deal is because NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is all about protecting the NFL brand. It’s also about player safety, but Goodell is probably concerned more about the former than the latter.
Seriously, is this story really that scandalous?! What’s surprising is that a couple of coaches were not only aware of the bounty program, but apparently gave their blessings to it. Everything else I’m sure is old news to most in the NFL. The NFL has done a decent job in trying to protect its players from vicious hits, but these type of hits have continued and will continue – it’s the nature of the game. Players are taught to hit hard; to knock their opponent down – maybe out of the game.
For the NFL all of a sudden to act saddened and dismayed that a bounty program exists is hypocritical. The league will throw around fines and suspensions – to show people that the NFL really cares.
After the bad PR dust has settled, the bounty program will go undercover again and coaches will do a better job of being oblivious to its existence. Of course there will also be legal ramifications, which I’m sure will be kept under the radar as well. The NFL will be back to its multi-billion dollar business as usual.
Sometimes I wonder if I really had a choice in the matter.
My sister and I were raised in Pittsburgh, PA by my mom and aunt who were Pittsburgh Steelers fans. Though they didn’t have season tickets they would go to as many games as possible, especially when the Steelers played the Browns in Cleveland. My mom wore Steeler colors and regalia on Fridays before games so if you didn’t know the Steelers were playing that Sunday you knew by her Friday wardrobe.
However, on Sundays is when my family’s love for the Steelers went into overdrive. We were regular church-goers but when the Steelers played they were a major distraction to honoring the father, son and holy ghost. When we were in church my mom would check her watch constantly; complaining to me about how the reverend seemed to extend his sermons so that people would miss the kick-off. Once the church service was over we practically flew to the car, barely saying our “good-byes” and “have a blessed week” to friends and fellow parishioners.
When we hopped in the car my mom would turn it to 1250 WTAE to hear the radio broadcast of the game. As the announcers babbled and Myron Cope screeched the color commentary my mom would practically scream “What’s the damn score? Shit!” Though my mom was a regular church-goer she was never quite able to remove expletives from her vocabulary. Throughout the twenty-minute car ride from church to home my mom and aunt would go from highs to lows depending on how well or horrible the Steelers were playing. When we got home my mom and aunt dashed towards the house to get inside so that they could immediately watch the game.
My mom and aunt would end up sitting in front of the television in their church finery, staring at the television until half-time. Then they would rush upstairs; get changed and eat their lunch in time to watch the rest of the game. Unfortunately, at that time we only had one television so my sister and I had a choice of watching the game or hanging out in our bedrooms. My sister chose her room; I chose the Steelers.
As I got older I found myself watching more Steeler games with my family which eventually led to the watching of other football games. By the time I went to college I was reading the sports page of major newspapers, listening to sports radio, subscribing to Sports Illustrated, reading draft news and mid-season reports. I simply couldn’t get enough of the NFL or my Steelers. Once I got cable and started watching the NFL Draft on ESPN it was game over. I had become a hardcore Steelers and NFL fan, my interest and knowledge surpassing my friends, family and even my then college boyfriend who played football for the University of Pittsburgh.
Nowadays on NFL gamedays I watch pre-games shows, several football games, NFL Redzone and post-game shows. The NFL Network has become my default channel. Every day I hit a bunch of sports websites (too many to mention) for team updates, standings and and other NFL news. I tweet the ups/downs of my Steelers and other teams with football glee. I post comments and analyses on sports websites about game highs and lows, talking trash, throwing around insults while simultaneously expressing my love of pro football. Note: I have purposely refrained from fantasy football because I know my addiction to it would be fast and furious.
Though I watch and follow a lot of NFL games and teams, my football priority is always the Steelers. I’m a proud Steelers fan, but not a delusional one (*cough* Redskins fans). However, my face frowns up and my eyes become squinty when people say bad things about my Steelers, even when they’re probably right. When I watch Steelers games I wave my Terrible Towel and yell at the television. I’m loud and it drives my husband and son nuts, but I can’t help it. I wish the worst game mojo on all Steelers rivals and their gameday competitors. When we win big games I yell “Go Steelers!” maniacally out my home window, scaring unsuspecting pedestrians. I get in funks when my team loses post-season. I have developed long-term, irrational hatred towards teams who have beaten my Steelers in post-season play. I have indoctrinated my son since he learned to speak to say “Steelers” when asked “Who is the best team?” My love for my team may have started out slow, but it kicked in with a vengeance.
Over the years I have seen my Steelers through great, good, so-so and bad seasons. Though I haven’t lived in Pittsburgh for years I have never thought for a second about switching my allegiance to another NFL team. I am a Steelers fan for life.
This week I received my latest edition of Sports Illustrated (May 5, 2010). The magazine’s cover story ‘The Hangover’ is on the Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The subtitle references his bad behavior, bad judgment and how “entitlement run amok is costing the proud Steelers.” As a Steelers fan this Roethlisberger scandal has been hard to take.
Just in case you didn’t get that he was a total sleazebag SI made sure to pick a photo that showed he hadn’t seen a razor in days. Add to that the prerequisite bank robber/rapist hat and the image is complete. He is a blue collar, semi-white trash, drunken thug who lives to defile the young and nubile.
Roethlisberger has done some dumb things in the past such as riding his motorcycle without a helmet, but this current double-whammy of sexual assault charges is just ridiculous. I use the word ridiculous because his actions were completely unnecessary.
I’m not negating the yuck factor of his actions. I can’t imagine having to fend off the drunken attentions of a man who is determined to have his way. It must be a scary situation for anyone, especially if the man is someone famous. I think that he deserved his NFL suspension because he obviously doesn’t grasp the concept of proper versus improper societal choices.
What I don’t understand is why he felt that he had no choice but to hit on and rough up some underage (under 21) college girls in order to get laid. He is a single guy–not physically unattractive–with loads of money. He could have gone through a low or high rent escort service for sex. He could have found some groupies to help him put his dick to rest. He also could’ve set-up some ‘friends with benefits’ situations to help relieve some of that sexual tension. Of course there are always known groupies whose day he would have made by giving them a “hot beef injection” to quote the Weird Science movie. I’m sure that some of his teammates could have guided him in the right coital direction whenever he really needed to get laid forthwith. I know some of these options are illegal and/or deemed immoral, but it’s done all the time, so there’s no point hiding our heads in the sand about it, pretending this type of so-called sexual decadence doesn’t exist.
Maybe Roethlisberger likes his women young because he still sees himself as a young college kid. Technically he’s only 7-8 years older than the woman he assaulted in Atlanta. But given his life experience and work environment he might as well be in another generation. I know that men usually like younger women because they are supposedly more supple, less of a hassle, less demanding and more malleable. They never think about what that says about them – that they are walking stereotypes of a manchild who can only relate to those younger than themselves.
He tried to put out the bad PR flames by holding a no-questions press conference, but it didn’t turn out well. He should have known that showing up to tell the world that you’re sorry while looking like you just got out of the shower would send the wrong message – again. It only confirmed to many that he was a first class lout. Now the SI story implies that he is a brain-damaged one at that, that his concussions have hampered his ability to know right from wrong, that he acts on instinct without understanding the consequences. I’m not sure which image is worse.
Since we’re a forgiving nation I’m sure that once Roethlisberger returns from his 6-game suspension and wins a few games all will be forgiven. It’s the American way. Hopefully while he is sitting out his time from the NFL he is getting some tips on how to pick up women whom he doesn’t need to assault to get their attention. It’s not that hard, pun intended.
Update: 1) In 2010 the NFL’s initial ‘personal misconduct’ suspension of Roethlisberger was reduced from six to four-games and he was ordered by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to undergo professional counseling and behavior evaluation during his suspension and subsequent reinstatement. 2) In 2010 the woman who accused Roethelisberger of sexual assault at a bar in Midgeville, Georgia on June 5, 2010 decided not to pursue criminal charges against him though she never recanted her accusation. The district attorney did not file criminal charges against Roethlisberger. 3) In 2012 Roethelisberger settled a civil lawsuit with Andrea McNulty who claimed that Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her in June 2008 at a Lake Takoe, Nevada celebrity golf tournament. No criminal charges were officially filed in the case. 4) Roethelisberger married Ashley Harlan in 2011; they have two children.