National / Sports / May 6, 2010

The case against Big Ben

By seemingly all accounts these days, Ben Roethlisberger is a puke. Following a second accusation of sexual assault, Roethlisberger must now sit out the first six games of the NFL season.

Are people surprised?

Well, they seem to be. Many interviewees aren’t, though, as they’ve seen this side of Roethlisberger. The Patron-guzzling, tail-chasing Roethlisberger-the unshaven, motorcycle-riding, “Drink Like a Champion” shirt-wearing guy who doesn’t listen well to women when they say no.

I guess I’m not surprised. Upset, but not surprised. See, when I was a kid, I had a favorite non-Brett Favre Green Bay Packer. His name? Mark Chmura.

Yes, the so-called American Chewie! That guy had hands, man. Not even Antonio Gates could stake claim to such a wondrous pair of paws. But Chmura wasn’t just about catching passes-he had some vices, too.

Alcohol, for one, as he’s admitted. Unfortunately, his most famous transgression came at the expense of his 17-year-old babysitter. According to court records, Chmura lured the girl into a bathroom, locked the door and assaulted her.

Sound familiar?

As a kid, I didn’t know what to think or who to believe. The accuser faced repeated threats and insults by the backwoods cretins who wouldn’t believe that the family values, conservative Chmura could ever commit such an atrocity.

In case you haven’t noticed, the response in Pittsburgh has been anything but similar.

People aren’t rushing to his side, as they did in the first case. They aren’t questioning the college girl from Milledgeville, or admonishing women who want to be seen or fawned over by athletes. No one’s calling her a groupie. They are used to this Roethlisberger.

And yet, he is still a Steeler. Draft-day rumors aside, there’s been no significant discussion about Roethlisberger being released or traded. Unlike Chmura, who never played another NFL game after his trial, it appears Roethlisberger will have to deal with a litany of “no means no” chants in NFL stadiums in 2010 and beyond. Good. He deserves it.

Chmura was acquitted, and now appears on radio from time to time, while also selling real estate on the side. Time heals all wounds, apparently, as Chmura was inducted into the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame early this year.

For Roethlisberger, organizational forgiveness may not take so long. Despite reports that have surfaced about Roethlisberger’s dirty dealings and his reputation in the locker room for being, in layman’s terms, a dirtbag, he can still redeem himself with a solid season. Sad, I know. But it would be par for the course, especially if the organization tries to take the Ray Lewis-Ravens route.

As some may recall, Lewis, like Chmura and Roethlisberger, was caught up in a high-profile case involving two stabbing deaths. Fortunately for Lewis, the jury decided he acted as a peacemaker in the incident, and that most evidence and testimony either supported this notion or was unreliable altogether.

Lewis was grilled by the media, despite being charged with a misdemeanor count of obstruction of justice. After the Ravens won the Super Bowl, Disney famously snubbed Lewis in their “I’m going to Disney World!” commercial. And Lewis, for what it’s worth, is still marred by the incident.

But the stabbings, I don’t know, the stabbings don’t bother me so much. There was Lewis, a young star with an entourage in the middle of a fight late at night-I guess I can see his side, his case. I can see a guy sticking up for his entourage, hanging out with guys he’s been around forever.

Is there a similar side with Roethlisberger, or Chmura for that matter? No, there really isn’t. I can’t see what could make a man slip into a hot tub with high school girls. I can’t see what may compel a man to hangout in a college bar, take a woman into the bathroom, have guards positioned outside to ward off her concerned friends and force her into a sexual act.

Of course, all of this is alleged. But in these instances, where there’s smoke, there’s often fire.

Kevin Morris

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