Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Elephant in the Room Dressed in Black and Gold

Picture this:  my dog Cheyenne, the one who so sensitive to my emotions, is clearly picking up on my distress on Thursday morning as I am trying, without much energy or desire, to get ready for work.  She is pawing at me and butting her head into my knee like she does anytime she feels I am upset.  It's as though she is saying, "Look at me, I'll distract you!"  So, I'm absently patting her, still more or less staring off into space, lost in my own thoughts when it occurs to me that anyone who would witness this scene would think I am worried over my mother after the week I'd had.  The truth of the matter is, I was thinking about Ben Roethlisberger.

Some might say that I was using that situation as a necessary distraction to stressful events on the home front.  However, there are others who know me who have likely thought it was a good thing I had this whole situation with my mother to distract me from the crisis concerning the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback of my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.  I am not sure what I would say to that actually.

Whatever the truth of my mental frame of mind is, I would imagine there are those who are waiting for me to take a position and are wondering where my loyalty will ultimately fall:  my raging sense of female empowerment versus my completely blind devotion to my team and the players on its roster.  When a fellow Steeler fan solicited comments on the situation, I wrote that I was struggling to reconcile those two issues.  A man commented back to me directly not to take it personally.  My immediate reaction was to think, "Wow, that's such a Man thing to say!"  And, of course, with my personality, I started to take the bait and engage him in what would have probably been a heated exchange with him ending it by calling me a female dog.  I tend not to take the high road in moments like that, I almost always snap back.  This time, however, too tired to fight, I let it go.  But, the bottom line is, while I originally felt wounded by that comment, he's probably right.  For me, this is personal.  I take my status as a Steeler fan very personally.  It's almost the first thing anyone who meets me learns about me.  It permeates my existence.  Okay, I can't resist:  it Completes Me. As a result, I feel protective of the players who wear "my" colors.  I hate it when anyone says anything bad about them (go ahead, just try to tell me Franco always caked out of bounds!)  On the other hand, I feel that one of the worst things an individual can do is to sexually assault another person.  It's not limited to men assaulting women, of course, but because I am a woman, the incidents of sexual assault on women are more my focus.  I am well aware that rape is not about sex, it's about power, but that is what makes it so heinous; the physical assault coupled with the stripping away of another individual's dignity and sense of security.  The crime that keeps on giving.  I can't and won't condone it.

So, we come to it:  how do I reconcile my stance as a woman standing firm against a hateful crime with my wanting to stand up and speak up for anyone who is a member of the team?  That's my struggle exactly.  How do I?  With the lawsuit, it was extremely easy.  That whole thing is about as bogus as a Raider fan stating that they're going to the Super Bowl next year.  There is probably a grain of truth in both claims, I do tend to think that this Andrea McNulty did have sex with Ben, and I think a Raider can go to the Super Bowl if he buys himself a ticket, but that's about the end of it.  I can shoot so many holes in that woman's claim, it's not even a challenge to try.  I hated the fact of it, because I think it was a distraction during the season, and I think it does a disservice to other women who actually are assaulted, but I never, not for a second, gave it any real credence.  But, my heart sank when I saw the news of the latest situation.  This one is a little harder to blow apart.  Of course, I still tried to tell myself we're all innocent until proven guilty, it doesn't really square with they way he conducts himself almost all the time, no other women are popping out of the woodwork (ala Tiger Woods) to say bad things about him, he's been active in a number of charities since the beginning of his career, and so on and so on.  But then he hired that attorney, Ed Garland, and I actually began to have doubts.  Mainly because I know who that man has defended before, and they all seem to be guilty.  I never watch the Ravens and see Ray Lewis but what I think, "You should be in prison."  Of course, I kind of wish he was off in prison somewhere because he's a beast of a player, and I'd rather my offense not have to face him, so take that into account.  However, his other big name clients that I am aware of are just as guilty in everyway but by the law.  The guy is good, I'll grant him, and it makes sense that you want the best, but I don't know...I didn't like the message it seemed to send.

And I was already aware of the incriminating photos of Ben with all these young women, clearly drunk to the point of passing out and wearing the less than fortunate t-shirt "Drink Like a Champion".   I have seen countless similar pictures of people on Facebook, but here is a lesson for a modern age:  in the Internet Age, you simply can't get away with that, it'll always come back to haunt you.  Of course, being young and dumb is not a crime, it's just stupid.  But it plays into a query my husband posed, which is whether Ben has a drinking problem.  I blew that off initially, but then I thought, "What if the head injuries couple with the alcohol, and he gets violent when he drinks?"

The worst was when Willie Colon came out with his statement, which is that he was on the dance floor away from where the assault supposedly happened and didn't see anything.  That was a carefully calculated statement meant to remove himself from the situation.  What I really noticed is what he didn't say, which is, "My friend Ben Roethlisberger did not do this."  Of course, attorneys are all over all of this, so they aren't really allowed to speak freely.  Who knows what he'd really like to say.

I keep waiting for the Steeler organization to say more than what they have.  Again, their attorneys probably aren't allowing it, but the Steelers have the largest female fan base in the NFL, this is hardly good for business.  I want Big Ben to come out and say or do something to assure the female fans.  But, what would he say that they would actually believe at this point?  Because, no matter what ends up happening, his reputation is completely shot.  Not that he's going to have trouble paying his mortgage next month, but he could have done so much more.

In the end analysis, I guess I have to wait, like everyone else, to see if he is truly innocent or guilty.  But, will I ever really know?  Can I look at him again under center and not have these nagging doubts?  I am trying to keep an open mind, but I will confess that also means I have to explore the possibility that my beloved quarterback really did assault that poor girl.  Dennis Dixon, I just hope you're using the off season to stay in football shape, my friend, you just may very well be the future face of the franchise.


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