3.15.2010

Big Ben Allegations Make People Have The Stupid

I was going to reserve comment on the Roethlisberger sexual assault fiasco in Georgia until some substantive facts came to light. Because absent facts about alleged celebrity scandals, people often say and write stupid things.

Like, really fucking mind-melting, misanthropy fueling stupid things.

And that's just what's happened. Predictably enough, sure. But because I'm a Steelers fan and I have a vested interest in the outcome of this case, people send me stupid things to read that I otherwise wouldn't since they're about the team I openly and annoyingly root for. So there's been a noticeable uptick of stupid in my life recently. As a result, there's been an attending hike in bouts of homicidal rage. So I must find an outlet lest they result in things like homicide.

First, an acknowledgment of bias: It's true: I want Roethlisberger to be innocent, but I have no idea whether he is. A very select number of people know the truth, and I can assure you exactly zero of them are sports writers. Until the facts come out, we're in this limbo of presumed guilt, presumed innocence, hearsay about general character and speculative retardery.

So I am going to rant about the worst of it that I have seen. There's probably even more that I thankfully haven't been exposed to. I won't even count anything on Bleacher Report, because if I did I'd be ranting well into next month.

"Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger should settle with his new accuser" -- Mike Florio, The Sporting News

Mike Florio, as he often reminds readers at PFT, is a lawyer. Thankfully, he is not my lawyer. Because he would have Big Ben reach a settlement with his accuser, even before the case has the chance to be dismissed. Because becoming known as a celebrity who pays people to make sexual assault allegations go away is a viable solution somehow. The majority of the country would greet the news as a tacit admission of guilt. He would also almost certainly be suspended.

"Roethlisberger's in More Trouble Than You Think" -- Clay Travis, Fanhouse

Clay Travis is also a lawyer who writes about sports. He too will frequently remind you of this. I'm not particularly concerned with his legal opinion on this still-developing case, so much as I am dumbstruck with this opening:

Judging by the relatively tame media coverage associated with Ben Roethlisberger's alleged sexual assault down in Georgia, you'd think that the case isn't that serious.

... Particularly in our heightened media environment when merely cheating on your wife can lead the news cycle for months. The comparative media silence is deafening.

I'm sorry, Clay, which media are we talking about here? Is the Italian media not sufficiently atwitter about the Big Ben allegations? Because it's not a secret around here. I know that because ESPN waited a few days to report on the first accusation about Ben in Reno, a lot of conspiracy theorists think the press has banded together to try to protect his image, but even ESPN was all over this one from the get-go. They had a story on the front page the day it broke. They sent correspondents to Georgia. CNN has been reporting on it. No one is underplaying this story.

An important distinction between this allegation and the Reno one needs to be made for these media-obsessed people. In the Reno case, there was no police investigation. Because the accuser never asked for one. In Georgia, there was an immediate investigation by authorities, one that is still ongoing. People who try to compare Big Ben's Reno case to Marvin Harrison's don't know what they're talking about. There was a police investigation in the Philly bar shooting.

If you want to make the filing of a civil suit the basis for huge media coverage, well, get ready for far trashier and shittier news coverage. Anyone could file a civil suit against a celebrity and get ample publicity from it. It's a dangerous precedent to set. Yet that means nothing to the hordes of idiots who want to decry DEERRRR ESPN IS COVERING FOR BIG BEN!

"Ben Roethlisberger’s Alleged Sexual Assault Escapades: Safe to Say, “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire”? -- The Big Lead

No, it's not safe to say that, unless you find safety in stupidity. Roethlisberger either assaulted these women or he didn't. Being accused of rape, even twice, does not make you a rapist. Being accused and charged and convicted of rape makes you a rapist. Is Ben reckless in his social life? That seems to be the case, but this isn't a story just because Ben went out to the bar to get rowdy on his birthday.

I seldom ever read The Big Lead. I would say 95 percent of times I've visited the site have been referrals from other bloggers who are complaining about some particular inaccuracy or obtuse statement that Jason McIntyre has made. I should have known better than to let them spam me with his shit.

"Tim Tebow to the Pittsburgh Steelers? They could use image-conscious QB after Ben Roethlisberger troubles" -- Orlando Sentinel's Swamp Things blog

The Steelers will not draft Tim Tebow. They won't do it even if Big Ben is convicted and thrown in prison. They won't do it if he isn't and Tebow falls to the 5th round. Because Tim Tebow will suck as an NFL quarterback. And even with Ben convicted, Tebow would not improve the Steelers' image. It just means Tebow would be asked about Roethlisberger a lot. And abortions. Maybe if he's a decent blocking tight end he can take Matt Spaeth's job. Otherwise thanks, but no thanks.

"Ben Roethlisberger's stupid behavior justifies New York Giants' choice in 2004 draft"
-- Gary Myers, New York Daily News

Maybe he has a point if Ben is found guilty. As of now, Ben Roethlisberger is still a better and more accomplished quarterback than Eli Manning. Does he have a worse public image? Sure, but Eli was the whiny asswipe begging to be traded from San Diego when the Giants got him, so let's not pretend that that was a consideration for them. But then this is the obnoxious New York media. They have to find an angle to involve their shitty players in everything. Some NBC New York writer sincerely said after Super Bowl XLIII that the Steelers should "thank" the Giants for trading draft picks in 2006, which allowed the Steelers to acquire Santonio Holmes. Were the Steelers justified in letting Plaxico walk in free agency when he shot himself in the leg? Thanks for taking him, I guess.

"Big Trouble for Big Ben" -- Barry Petchesky, Deadspin

This typified all the dumb knee-jerk reactionary pieces that came out the day the story broke.

At this stage, I'll resist the urge to make any kind of grandiose moral proclamation, but instead state a fact: Ben Roethlisberger has been branded for life.

Guilt or innocence doesn't matter. Think of the Duke lacrosse team. By now the world knows that they were completely innocent of any of the awful things they were charged with. But go back a second. When I said "think of the Duke lacrosse team," what was the first thing your mind went to?

Maybe because no one gives a shit about lacrosse otherwise? What if I said "think of the Boston College lacrosse team" what was the first thing your mind went to?

If this case is dismissed without charge and the civil suit ruled in Big Ben's favor, the "stigma" goes away for the most part. Yes, people will continue to reference the allegations for a few years and Ravens fans will still call him Rapistberger, but it'll essentially become a footnote. Kobe Bryant has mostly repaired his image and he actually settled with his assault accuser. These things tend to fade over time. Unless of course he's convicted, then, yeah, stigmas all around.

So there. Done venting about this. And I'll gladly not write about it again until there's something to actually address.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey...you guys waiting awhile for a Free Agent Recap, or what? I could understand if so, but a lot of other non-Ben-related news has been going down.

Christmas Ape said...

Yeah, I'll get into the stuff with Foote, Randle El, Battle, Clark and the others soon. Been crushed with other writing recently. Hopefully either tomorrow or Wednesday.

Buck said...

great post Ape.

Juls said...

Agreed- great post. [It will give me some fuel when discussing the topic with Ratbirds fans.]

Spatula said...

Most of the asinine comments seem to be generated by anti-Steeler fans. Those individuals who aren't necessarily rabid fans of other teams so much as those who are jealous of the success the Steelers, as an organization, have enjoyed.

The Dreadnought said...

+1 Spatula.

Anonymous said...

This is some of your best work Ape, simply because it's the most courageous.

It's obvious that certain sports blogs are friendly to one another, and harsh on others -- TBL has been the target of Deadspin/Ufford/many others -- but your criticism of DS here is on point.

I think the whole "DEADSPIN SUCKS NOW" crowd is corny, but Petchesky is awful. I don't even mean in a technical sense; it's more that what he writes is often nonsensical, poorly researched, and/or plain wrong (not that he's the only one over there with these issues COUGHdashCOUGH). Kudos to you for doing what many others have shied away from for fear that they wouldn't be allowed to sit at the cool kids' table anymore.