Stupid Until Proven Innocent … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

The presumption of innocence, otherwise known as innocent until proven guilty is one of the foundation stones of American society and has roots that reach back to England, ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.

In this current age of instant news and the 24-hour news cycle, it’s become a harder concept to live by and accept. Too much becomes known too fast about a moment in time. The standard of presuming innocence does not exist outside American courtroom in this 21st Century; it’s survival in jurisprudence can be debated as well.

It happens all the time. A person will be charged with some sort of crime or felonious behavior and it will become big headlines. A grand-jury indictment signals the perp walk that television loves, even though an indictment is not a finding of guilty or not guilty.

These days it seems more like guilty until proven innocent.

This civics lesson comes because of the latest incident that involves Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben is accused of sexual assault last week in Milledgeville, Georgia. A 20-year-old student at Georgia College and State University told authorities that Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her at in a women’s bathroom at nightclub near the college campus. Police at the scene interviewed Roethlisberger and members of his party and permitted them to leave.

The woman was treated at a Milledgeville hospital that night and released.

Join me by repeating three times:

OK, innocent until proven guilty, innocent until proven guilty, innocent until proven guilty.

What follows is not a written defense of Roethlisberger. Nor, is this a written screed indicting the Steelers QB for what happened last week. I wish I could give Big Ben the benefit of a doubt.

I can’t. This post is about a reckless young man who can’t seem to grow up, no matter how many times he finds his world disrupted by the way he’s living his life. Whether it’s flying off a motorcycle and smashing up his head and face because he wasn’t wearing a helmet; or facing a civil lawsuit from a woman in Nevada who says Roethlisberger assaulted her; or now facing another investigation in Georgia, this guy doesn’t get it.

Those are the incidents we know about, the ones that have crawled forward into the public light. It would be my experience hanging around sports for over 30 years now that when an incident becomes known, there’s a very good chance it’s part of a behavioral pattern that hasn’t been exposed or previously addressed. Meaning: there are all sorts of sordid stories in the naked city and more than the three we know have this guy’s name on them.

A Pittsburgh television station reported Wednesday that Roethlisberger has admitted that he had “sexual contact” with the woman. His high-powered Atlanta attorney Edward Garland told the media that his client was involved in “no criminal activity” and he’s “completely innocent of any crime.”

In the strictest sense of the law, he may be innocent. But he’s guilty of felony stupidity.

Roethlisberger was out celebrating his 28th birthday and doing the town in Milledgeville – he has a lake home nearby – with one of his teammates OT Willie Colon and two other “friends” who were actually a Pennsylvania state policeman and a police officer from the Pittsburgh suburb of Coraopolis. Authorities in Pennsylvania say the men were there as friends, not working as body guards or a security force.

Supposedly the quarterback was friendly as his group went from establishment to establishment, where he posed for pictures and reportedly he was watching his alcohol intake. The group’s last stop was a place called Capital City, a nightclub where the quarterback and his friends were given a private area. That kept at a distance so various local goobers who might have wanted to see if they could take on an NFL player. But women were not stopped from entering the area.

What happened is now the subject of investigation. The young lady has left school and the quarterback is no longer in Georgia. His attorney said they will cooperate with the investigation.

Understand, in no way am I saying Roethlisberger needs to live his life as a hermit, never going out, never dating, never meeting women, never having a beer or supposedly his drink of choice: Red Bull and vodka. But come on – sex in a nightclub bathroom with a lawsuit still hanging over your head?  

Taken individually, those three moments in Roethlisberger’s life could all be dismissed as bad luck or wrong place at the wrong time. Put those three situations on the same radar screen, and a pattern comes forth that’s not very pretty. It challenges the premise of innocent until proven guilty.

The women who sued him in Nevada left herself open to people questioning her story when she didn’t file any charges with the police and a year later chose to file suit in civil court.

But remember this: Roethlisberger admitted to having sex with that woman as well. He said it was consensual. Somebody needs to buy this guy a copy of Fatal Attraction and maybe that will scare the stupid out of him.

I can only imagine how many women a young, rich NFL quarterback has to deal with on a regular basis, especially if they are out and about. I can barely remember being 28 years old. I was a poor sportswriter, married with a four-year old. I wasn’t out and about; it’s hard to relate.

But I’ve always fallen back to lessons learned when I was much younger. Don’t touch the stove Bobby, it’s hot. I touched the stove. I screamed … I got yelled at … my burn was treated. I didn’t touch the stove again. It’s really a very simple process of learning, a concept that apparently is too much for Roethlisberger to assimilate.

This story is not going to go away. Charges have not been filed against him and by the time authorities get through investigating and his lawyer finishes negotiating, Roethlisberger may never see the inside of a police station or court room.

Right now, he’s in the court of public opinion, and there he’s stupid until proven innocent.


37 Responses to “Stupid Until Proven Innocent … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • March 11, 2010  - brad says:

    Great work here Bob. I could not agree more with your argument. One wrinkle, however: don’t forget that we all enable this type of behavior from the time knuckle-head athletes like Roethlisberger are teen-agers. He should learn, yes, but so should we. It starts early. Just think if his high school coach had shown some back-bone and suspended him when (presumably) he engaged in such stupid behavior back in the day. All these athletes have been mollycuddled from the time that their talents became apparent and thus have reason to expect that they will continue to get off with just a slap on the wrist.


  • March 11, 2010  - Steve says:

    Schefter is reporting we signed a reciever from Arizona, not “the” reciever, he went to Baltimore,but a reciever. Getting depth where they can. Fun offseason so far, can not wait for the draft.


  • March 11, 2010  - ThunderChief says:

    Well stated, Bob, well stated indeed.


  • March 11, 2010  - JohnNdallas says:

    Good Stuff Bobby!

    There are many ailments, maladies and diseases that are terrible, but maybe none more deadly and wide spread than Cranial Rectitis.


  • March 11, 2010  - Mike in MO says:

    I totally agree with Brad. We enable athletes from their teenage years through their professional careers, and sometimes much longer than that. For every solid citizen like Brian Waters, Will Shields, and Scott Fujita, there are dozens who believe they’re unique and deserving of special treatment. They take from society, often giving little or nothing (beyond athletic prowess) in return. As long as we enable this type of behavior, we can expect more of it. Insanity is often defined as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Athletes need to learn that their athletic abilities are not carte blanche to behave as boorishly as they choose.


  • March 11, 2010  - el cid says:

    You cannot fix stupid, trite but fits. He may be a gifted athlete but from the time of his motocycle accident, it appears that football may be all he’s got. Hope his agent to saving some of his salary or he will have nothing 5 years after he stop playing football.


  • March 11, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    I would offer this…

    I think it’s highly possible that these women are looking for nothing more than a ton of money in a civil lawsuit. And in this latest case, what better target than a guy who has been accused of it before?


  • March 11, 2010  - Randy says:

    I don’t think big Ben assaulted anyone. These women are opportunistic. He is, however stupid enough to put himself into the position of being accused. The bathroom of a nightclub? He could have chosen a more private place, having sex in a public place is the ultimate setup for rape charges, especially if you’re rich and famous.


  • March 11, 2010  - SG says:

    “Thursday Cup-O-Chiefs”

    BobGretz, your article title says “Cup-o-Chiefs” but there’s no Chiefs here.

    “This story is not going to go away.”

    As you know, I think this is a GREAT SITE and will continue to be back almost every day, but if you write more on Big Ben (a perfectly valid discussion topic), please do it as a separate article and not as the main Cup-o-Chiefs piece (not a valid place for that article), where I like to see what you have to say about my favorite team. I’ll email you directly concerning this matter.

    Thanks,
    SG


  • March 11, 2010  - SG says:

    Since BobGretz has not said anything about it – another site has said that the Chiefs have picked up WR Jerheme Urbane. Would anyone like to discuss this Chiefs news?


  • March 11, 2010  - el cid says:

    Never heard of him, college or pros. Haley must know the guy, so ok by me, could not be any worse than Lawrence, one of the infamous 09 picks.


  • March 11, 2010  - SG says:

    “Never heard of him, college or pros.”

    Urban is a former AZ Cardinals WR – he was like #4 on the depth chart and would fill in as the #3 WR when Boldin was hurt. Otherwise, Urban would catch the occasional pass in the 4-WR sets for them.


  • March 11, 2010  - SG says:

    Oh, and, as if it’s a big loss, Sean Ryan has left to sign with the Redskins…


  • March 11, 2010  - Double A says:

    I’m sorta bothered by your decision to put a picture of a crazed woman next to this story. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you are trying to be even handed, but please realize this is a cliched stereotype too often is used by society to cover up horrible misdeeds.

    The thing that bothers me, having known someone who had to go to the hospital and have a rape kit performed on her– I know it takes a lot of courage to do that, it is painful and humiliating. My opinion– you’d have to be a little nuts to go to a hospital for “treatment” just to try to scam. The fact that this alleged victim went to the hospital sticks with me about this story…still – innocent until proven guilty.


  • March 11, 2010  - Mark says:

    Heerm Edwards couldn’t coach a lick, and destroyed this franchise, from which Pioli and Haley are trying to dig us out, but the wisest thing he ever said is nothing good happens to a football player late at night. Those words should always be heeded, and these knuckleheads should learn to stay out of situations that, in the world of TMZ and Picturephones, can get them into trouble. Big Ben is already a convicted Felon in the world of Knucklehead stupidity.


  • March 11, 2010  - arrowhead1978 says:

    Double A, apparently you have never seen the movie Bob has referenced for Ben to watch? That’s a scene in the movie where the girl that micheal douglas was banging on the side went crazy and tries to kill him, it’s not just a crazed woman.

    I think Ben probably did something that wasn’t quite so black and white, nothing ever is, there is always a tinge of grey. Just like LJ mushing chicks at the clubs, did he really do it? Who knows, he wasn’t convicted was he? But that doesn’t mean anything.

    Really SG, you want to talk about the chiefs picking up a receiver who in 7 years has 87 catches for 1231 yards and 7 TD’s. Wow, it’s a good thing that he knows Haley or he might be out of the NFL.


  • March 11, 2010  - SG says:

    “Really SG, you want to talk about the chiefs”

    Yes sir, an actual conversation about something Chiefs – on a pro-Chiefs website (not Soap Opera Digest)…whatta concept :-)

    Or we can talk about who they might want to pick up next.


  • March 11, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Double A,

    You are correct, rape is no laughing matter. But, on the other side…I don’t imagine that being falsely accused of it is any picnic, either.

    And none of us know what the case is here.


  • March 11, 2010  - jimbo says:

    Excellent story Bob,
    Big Ben is pushing the envelope, which in turn be resposible for his own demise. “Guilty of being stupid, is classic”.

    Urban will be a good 3rd. down receiver. I hear he has great hands & was weened out of the line up at AZ, just like Chambers out of San Diego.
    Pioli is getting good players to solidify both competition & injury in the WR corp.
    The team is getting better, just like he promised.
    Go Chiefs.


  • March 11, 2010  - True Red & Gold says:

    Double A, you obviously don’t know very many women. There are tens of thousands of women that would do just about anything for some attention and money!

    Bob, this is a good article and a nice picture into your how you think. You are right, it is about stupid. Some are just born stupid and never improve and others of us just have bouts of it (we’ve all tried it out a time or two).

    Also Bob I am glad that you are not deterred by those that think they know better how to write your Blog! Keep up the good work!


  • March 11, 2010  - SG says:

    “Pioli is getting good players to solidify both competition & injury in the WR corp.”

    Good comments jimbo. Who are your top 3 candidates (FA or draft) – not currently on the roster – to improve the competition and depth at Offensive Line?


  • March 11, 2010  - SG says:

    “Keep up the good work!”

    Almost always the strongest Chiefs material out there bar-none.

    Same question to you TR&G: Who are your top 3 candidates (FA or draft) – not currently on the roster – to improve the competition and depth at Offensive Line?


  • March 11, 2010  - True Red & Gold says:

    I consider this site to be all about football with an emphasis on the Chiefs and that is just fine with me. You can talk the Chiefs to death if you don’t take a break from it once and awhile and just talk about football and the people involved in it. Chill out a little.


  • March 11, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Just heard on the radio that Merlin Olsen passed away. Hall of Fame player, one of the “Fearsome Foursome”, all-around great guy. RIP.


  • March 11, 2010  - jimbo says:

    SG,
    I keep away from predicting who we pick, trade or acquire. There is plenty of mock enthusiasts out there without giving my two cents. I was rooting for Wilfork & Sproles in earlier posts & all I got out of that was “nothing”. FA’s, picks & mocks change daily & quite frankly I can’t & don’t really care as of today who might be on our radar tomorrow. I do like to respond when we pick up a player.
    I will say this though, a couple of days before & during the draft, I will be more vocal on my favorites.
    Secondly,I do think NT & O-line are our biggest priorities as of today…


  • March 11, 2010  - jimbo says:

    Merlin Olsen,
    Mountain of a man, tough football player, colorful commentator, great actor, philanthropist & human being. Farewell.


  • March 11, 2010  - IDChieftan says:

    SG,
    This is bobgretz.com meaning that he is a gifted and well-respected journalist. He uses the site to talk about whatever he pleases and he is the best in the Chiefs business. If you want random roster fodder all of the time go to arrowheadpride.com or arrowheadaddict.com which are both great unofficial blogs.

    Great article Bob, I don’t understand how he decides that intercourse in a Milledgeville night club bathroom is a good decision. And how worthless are his friends? He needs better decision makers around him to help his stupidity.

    I am a Chiefs fan but live in Mesa, AZ and watch a lot of Cardinal games. Urban is a good slot guy and will help as a safety option for Cassell.


  • March 11, 2010  - Double A says:

    True Red & Gold,
    Yes, I know plenty of women. I have not met ONE who has had a rape kit performed on her at the hospital and then falsely accused a man of rape. I know lots of women who have done despicable things, (for example, slimy ways to get a man to marry her, etc.) Do you know any woman who has ever had a medical rape kit done on her?

    arrowhead1978,
    Yep, I’ve seen the movie. That character is a complete and total looney who goes after a married man with whom she was having an affair. So, what place does that picture have here?????? Is it to insinuate the accuser is going to end up boiling Ben’s bunny?
    Check out the mellow picture of Ben – Why isn’t there a picture of scary, rapist character from the movies??? No offense, but just think about the comparision.


  • March 11, 2010  - Double A says:

    I know false accusations of rape occur. I think the probably of falsehood decreases once the victim goes through with the rape kit and talks to police, though. That’s all.


  • March 11, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    IDChieftan says:
    “I am a Chiefs fan but live in Mesa, AZ and watch a lot of Cardinal games. Urban is a good slot guy and will help as a safety option for Cassell.”

    Thanks for the insight on Urban. I don’t see many Cardinals games…so I don’t know much about him, really. I would imagine it must have been tough to get a lot of opportunities with Fitz, Boldin, and Breaston as teammates.


  • March 11, 2010  - Beavis says:

    I’ve never heard of Urban and we will have to wait and see if it was a good pick up but even though he was a #4 receiver in Arizona you have to look at who was in front of him: Fitzgerald, Boldin, and Breaston. If he can play even half as well as these guys he will be a hell of an addition to our roster!


  • March 11, 2010  - arrowhead1978 says:

    So lilja failed his physical and thats why he was cut from the colts. I dont know if the chiefs should take a look or not, his knee and back apparently are causing problems…


  • March 11, 2010  - Stiv says:

    There’s a couple of comments in this thread I find surprising. Two of you are convinced that Burgerboy is the victim here. I find that fascinating and have to wonder what that mind set is based upon.

    Personally since I wasn’t at either location and don’t know any of the people involved I’m reserving judgment either way.

    But I do know this, at best Roethlisburger is an idiot, at worst he’s a serial rapist.

    I’m glad he’s Pittsburgh’s poster boy and not KC’s.


  • March 11, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Stiv,

    If one of those “two” you are referring to is me…then you didn’t read my comments very closely. I have no idea who the “victim” is in this case. I merely mentioned a possibility.


  • March 11, 2010  - Dean in Columbia says:

    Bob,

    Great article. This would be a great piece for the back page of SI. Rick Rielly’s old spot.

    Well written football articles are always welcome in my opinion. No complaints here just kudos.


  • March 12, 2010  - go says:

    Pittsburg will not keep him…watch for him and the Raiders becoming fast friends.


  • March 12, 2010  - TX_truChieFAN says:

    First of all…Bob, great article.

    However, I do agree SG, this wasn’t a “Cup-O-Chiefs” was it? Many a time Bob has posted multiple threads early morning…a true “C-O-C” and another great read. This was a great read and a great topic of debat, but had nothing to do with the Chiefs.

    Secondly,
    Double A,
    Seriously…seriously…have you ever seen “Havoc”? Do you think young women never get themselves into situations that they don’t look for another way out? After all it should be innocent until proven guilty shouldn’t it? Grant it, he (Big Ben) puts himself into bad situations, especially for someone in the lime light, but to think that a woman would never go as far as to have a “rape kit” done on her to protect her inocence is simply nieve!

    And finally, on a Chiefs note…I think Jerheme was an awesome addition. Any fourth receiver of the pass happy Cards would be much more welcome than Bobby “droppsy” Wade and Co.

    Go Chiefs, and the Right 53…can’t wait!




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