Big Trouble for Big Ben?


Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won't face criminal charges for whatever happened in that club bathroom with a young woman in Georgia. Now the question is what will the NFL do about the star signal caller. Jeff Chadiha believes there's only one option for the league

With his 10-minute statement to the media on Monday, Milledgeville (Ga.) District Attorney Fred Bright just made it painfully clear what must happen to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger must be punished swiftly. He must be disciplined in a way that makes sense to anybody who heard Bright recount details of the alleged sexual encounter with a 20-year-old college student in March. You simply couldn't listen to this story and expect Roethlisberger to walk away unscathed even now that Bright has decided not to charge him with sexual assault.

I keep hearing how the Steelers sent a message to Roethlisberger about his behavior by trading troubled wide receiver Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets on Sunday. I also keep thinking that's a cop-out.

If the Steelers really want to put Roethlisberger in his place, direct action is the only strategy that works in this case. Just as they felt it necessary to deal Holmes in the wake of his issues, they need to hammer Big Ben — who also faces a lawsuit from a woman who claims he raped her in Lake Tahoe in the summer of 2008 — for those that he has brought upon himself. (Roethlisberger denies the Lake Tahoe allegation, has not been criminally charged in that case, either, and has filed a countersuit for damages in the lawsuit).

In fact, it's hard to see how the Steelers and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell have any other option at this stage. When Bright appeared on Monday afternoon to explain his decision-making process in this case, it seemed as if he would be offering the standard-issue news conference for such matters. He needed to protect the integrity of his office by making it clear that Roethlisberger's celebrity didn't factor into this case going south. Bright was doing what any official in his situation would do — he was preparing to sufficiently cover his butt.

However, he went a step further than normal. He laid as much of the story out there as he could, presumably so everybody could know this wasn't merely a case of an aspiring gold digger missing out on a big payday from a reckless star athlete. The most revealing details involved Roethlisberger's allegedly buying an already inebriated girl (and her friends) shots, then meeting her in a bathroom. Even without knowing what happened next, Bright's detailed account had to make the hairs on the back of Goodell's neck snap to attention.


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