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The Steelers had a team meeting on Monday, and the hot topic was a new "zero tolerance policy" for off-field misconduct that was reportedly presented by coach Mike Tomlin. At least that's what Willie Colon says:
"We were told early this morning either you get in line or you get kicked out of line. You are going to be traded or you're not going to be here. If your conduct is going to play a part in you not being a good football player, they are going to get rid of you. ...There is a zero tolerance, not only with the NFL but with the Steelers."
That sounds pretty tough...but the problem is, in another account, Tomlin wouldn't confirm that he actually said that:
Tomlin met with players before practice, and that's where players said the message was delivered. The coach, however, denied making those remarks. Tomlin rarely discusses issues he addresses with his players. But defensive end Aaron Smith confirmed remarks were made to the Steelers "as a group."

"Guys took it different ways, depending on how they interpreted it, but I think ... after what we've seen go on, there's not going to be much tolerance for stuff around here," Smith said.
OK, maybe it was meant to stay in-house and Colon blabbed. I can get that. At the very least, it's a long overdue step in the right direction, although I find it hard to believe that a locker room full of grown men are essentially being told to be on their best behavior, as if the message has somehow not yet sunk in to this point in life.

I don't know at exactly what point the Steelers lost their way dealing with this kind of behavior; but it's good to hear that they are finally addressing it and starting on the long path back to restoring their once much-higher-regarded image. It's going to be a tough road, and there may be a few more casualties along the way, but the time to do this is now.  Well, actually it was a few years ago...but if that were the case, we might not have celebrated that Harrison/Holmes-led Super Bowl, considering their respective legal backgrounds to that point...would we? But better late than never, I suppose.

The new policy aside, an even more interesting quote came from the lips of newly re-acquired WR Antwaan Randle-El, who threw this blind item supreme out there: "Some of us have had the same situations; they just didn't come to light. We can't point the finger at everyone."

We'll let everyone's speculation run wild on that one.

Meanwhile, speculation also continued to run wild as to when Ben Roethlisberger's suspension would actually be doled out, with conflicting reports coming out left and right since Sunday night. The timing of the announcement is a hot topic, with the draft and the schedule release coming this week, but that's more for the conspiracy theorists. I prefer to deal in the land of facts, and one fact is that Roger Goodell spoke to Dan Patrick today on this very topic:
"The issue here is with respect to a pattern of behavior and bad judgments," Goodell said on Patrick's radio program. "You do not have to be convicted or even charged of a crime to be able to demonstrate that you've violated a personal conduct policy, and reflect poorly not only on themselves, but all of their teammates, every NFL player in the league and everyone associated with the NFL. And that is what my concern is, and I have expressed that directly to Ben, obviously, and I will be making a decision as soon as I possibly can."
I hope everyone in the "he wasn't even arrested/charged" camp paid attention to that statement. Regardless of the fact that he wasn't charged, he's brought a tremendous amount of bad press to himself, his team, and his league, with some facts that are undeniably true. And that, plus whatever additional information Goodell knows that we aren't privy to, constitutes a violation of the league's conduct policy.

With those poor decisions comes a loss of consumer confidence, a loss of corporate confidence, and a loss of merchandise sales; even the beef jerky guys want to distance themselves from Roethlisberger. And don't forget two major groups who are disgusted with Roethlisberger the most right now: female fans (of which the Steelers have a massive amount of) and fathers of daughters (who seemingly call talk shows to vent about "if that were my daughter..." every 30 seconds or so).

In addition to these interested parties, Goodell has to consider past precedent of other suspensions as to be consistent with his rulings and avoid claims of favoritism towards the Steelers/Roethlisberger. There are many eyeballs intently watching this case, and how it is handled will either please or upset a number of these groups - but I doubt everyone will walk away content with the outcome. Personally, I agree with Chris Mortensen's take, that this will be a conditional suspension like Michael Vick got last year. But regardless of what happens, one thing is for sure: there are no winners in a situation like this.

Steelers: Zero tolerance for off-field misconduct [Trib]

Goodell: Roethlisberger violated policy [ESPN]

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Jonny Van Mundegaarde said...

Zero tolerance seems pretty harsh to me. Are there different levels of misconduct? Will some transgressions get them a fine and/or suspension while others will get them cut from the team? Maybe the public doesn't even have to be privy to the new policy.

Glad to see something is finally going on to address the black cloud hanging above the franchise, but I hope this doesn't lead to any unjust punishment.

chris said...

One doesn't need to be a woman or a "father of a daughter" to think that Roethlisberger's rampant misogyny is inappropriate, detrimental to the team image, or the league's image. The Gene Collier column from 4/18 should expose that fans who refuse to tolerate Roethlisberger's behavior from a women's rights perspective are indeed justified (and finally getting column inches). Count this underrepresented group within your ranks of those disgusted with Roethlisberger's repeated behavior.

BURGH08 said...

How are you 'not going to tolerate it' chris?

Being disgusted or to think his behavior was inappropriate I believe is represented by the majority here and beyond, and there will be action taken.

To people that think it needs to be the point of removal or they won't 'support' the Steelers? Find another team then.

P.S. I hear the new levels will be from minor to harsh:

* Fine
* Suspension
* Banished to Clairton

Steve said...

Clairton...isn't that a little harsh?

As much an albatross as Ben has become to the Steelers, it will be interesting to see how fan opinions of him change as this season goes on.

What if he is suspended for 4 games? The majority of fans will be probably be on board with that disciplinary action and probably agree/demand that it should be more. Maybe 8 games, or just trade him already…hell, hang him!

Then the fun starts. What happens if the Steelers start 0-4 behind Batch and Dixon? When Ben starts game 5, do the fans boo him? Maybe, but not as much as if he started the season. If he can lead the Steelers into a playoff spot despite the 0-4 start, do the fans still boo him? Will they still be just as disgusted and disappointed with him then? It’s amazing how hypocritical people become when it comes down to wins and losses and everyone can talk a good game now when it’s April, but when it’s December and the Steelers are battling for the post-season, I bet the talk of trading him won’t be so loud and the excuse that he somehow, magically, over the course of a few months, has learned his lesson and should be judged differently now will be the new talk.

Yup, it will be interesting.

Mr. Lenzi said...
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Chris said...

(I'm a different Chris than above) My thought here basically goes like this. Ben is acting like a frat boy, which most people will agree he is too old to be doing that. That said, however, he still may not be any more despicable than 75% of college guys out there.

Hypothetically, let's say that he never raped the girl from last year (which isn't a stretch, she threatened to sue people who wouldn't back her story, which is sort of fishy), but that he did mess around with her. Then let's assume he screwed around with this girl as was reported. Let's also assume she was so drunk she doesn't remember it, as was reported. If she was that drunk, who knows what she wanted or didn't want at that time. But she was wearing a name-tag that said exactly what she was looking for that night (It said "DTF" which stands for Down To F...). The idea of going to a restroom to "take care of business" is undoubtedly stupid, however, that's about as far as many people can vilify Ben. The reason being is that how many guys out there spent their college days sleeping around, having a good time? Well, add in an exorbitant amount of money, fame, and supposed past (even if it's not true it definitely leads to people believing it more) to those guys and guess what happens. I'm not saying Ben was right, he wasn't. I'm not saying Ben is the worst person ever, he's not. But the main point I am making is that he has gotten his image absolutely murdered for speculation and doing what a lot of guys do. The whole guilty till proven innocent thing is pretty annoying in this case.

Also, I really don't understand how Women's rights enters this up to and until he is convicted. It's not been proven he didn't do anything that women wanted. The only thing that's been proven at this point is that Ben likes to get some while at the bar. If the girl doesn't expect that from a guy who would try to pick her up at the bar, that's her own fault. But really, until it's proven that Ben is a rapist or sexual offender, then the Women Rights issues just don't yet exist.

One point for those who is saying Ben is making poor decisions by going out...staying in and having women over could be far, far worse. Going out isn't the issue, the venue is the issue, and the types he associates with out of the eyes of witnesses is the issue.

Ben may be an idiot, I don't know. He may be a rapist, I don't know. Ben may be the most unlucky guy in the NFL with character defamation, I don't know. But I prefer to remain at the innocent till proven guilty side of the argument.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

A lot of people have differing opinions on what makes up despicable conduct. I personally think that dead-horsing a girl on a toilet seat in some B-F-E bar qualifies as despicable. Factor in the prior allegations and now all the rumbling and grumbling about other women who never came forward and it appears we have a bit of a history developing.

HOWEVER, it still comes down to being he said-she said, and unfortunately there is not enough evidence to prove it's more than that.

Is he guilty of being a scumbag, YES. If he wasn't already amidst allegations for similar acts, I would probably give him the benefit of the doubt. I just can't help but think this is just the beginning of the end for him. At least this chapter of his career.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why this is such a big deal or a surprise to anyone. To many in the professional world, we can lose our jobs for being an idiot in our private lives. Its about time the Steelers start earning the reputation they supposedly have.

Let's say Ben didn't rape or assault the girl and that the bathroom sex was consensual. That is still illegal and had they been caught, would be deserving of a suspension. Through his lawyers, Ben has admitted to sex with the accuser, which is TOTALLY different than what he originally told police. That is pretty fishy to me.

Clairton isn't rough enough for these guys. Send them to Manchester. Hopefully they enjoy their time out.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

Send 'em to Lincoln-Lemington

Unknown said...

usually when you lie to law enforcement officials and they catch you in the lie, you go to jail for obstruction of justice...

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.