I don't care about Big Ben. He's an a*****e. But I think the entire concept of the NFL suspending a player who has done nothing wrong legally is complete BS
Welcome to Roger Goodell's NFL, where you can be suspended from football without being arrested or charged with a crime.
Whether you agree with the NFL's suspension of Ben Roethlisberger, it's important to realize what an unbelievable expansion the NFL has now undertaken into the private lives of its players. Never before has a player been suspended from a league for something that is entirely of a private nature. Sure, we've had suspensions for gambling, drug use, utilization of banned substances that increase athlete potential, but never before has a player been suspended without being arrested or charged with a crime.
And as the 21st century progresses, with the rise of new media and the alacrity with which media reports can damn athletes no matter their guilt or innocence, the NFL may have won the public relations battle while losing the war. Because, guess what, this won't be the last time that a prominent football player is accused of a seamy crime. And this won't be the last time that Roger Goodell, the NFL's own Solomon, sits in a high court of sports justice.
As anyone who has ever practiced criminal law knows, guilt or innocence is rarely a bright line rule; the criminal court dwells in a constant sea of gray, uncertain testimony, questionable motives, witnesses who aren't completely truthful, a jumble of uncertainty, the whirlwind of conflicting stories.
That's why our court system requires that someone be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before we punish them. As a country, we'd rather see 1000 guilty men go free than unjustly imprison one person for a crime he didn't commit. That's just what we believe.
You or I can read the Big Ben police report and the pre-existing civil complaint filed in Nevada and draw our own conclusions. Personally, I believe that Ben Roethlisberger is likely a rapist. But that hasn't been proven beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of Big Ben's peers. Moreover, that personal belief doesn't change my opinion of what the NFL has to do in the absence of a player being arrested or charged with a crime.
Not one damn thing.
Because it's not the NFL's job to determine guilt or innocence in criminal matters.
And if you value the judicial process one iota, if you value the ability of a player to defend himself in a court of law, and, perhaps most importantly, believe that the media doesn't determine whether someone is guilty or not, then you have to repudiate the NFL's decision to expand the bounds of sports justice and suspend a player for an entirely off-the-field action that led neither to an arrest nor charges being filed