The Post-Super Bowl Sexual Assault Roundup

photo of ben roethlisberger drunk pictures

Despite my lack of love for football, I was rooting for the Green Bay Packers during Sunday’s Super Bowl game. But it wasn’t because they seemed like the particularly better team (though I do love cheeseheads). No I, like many others, was so turned off by stories concerning Ben Roethlisberger and his lurid history of sexual assault that I couldn’t bring myself to root for him or the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the days that have followed, however, I’ve wondered if rooting for the Packers along the lines that they are a “better” group of individuals was particularly wise or based in fact.

In short, no. Packers players have an equally complex recent history in regards to their treatment of women; six players have been charged by two women for sexual assault. They consist of quarterback Matt Flynn, linebackers Clay Matthews and Brad Jones, fullback Korey Hall, guard Josh Sitton and …

… safety Khalil Jones. Like Roethlisberger, all who were originally involved have been released of charges. Recently, a new allegation has been pressed against cornerback Brandon Underwood. Underwood’s investigation is also being conducted by the Lake Delton Police Department in Wisconsin, where the alleged assault occurred. Sgt. Gerald Grimsled, “It comes down to ‘was it consensual sex?’ One side says yes, the other says no.” I’d say that if one side thinks it wasn’t consensual, and physically and/or vocally stated that it was not, then it wasn’t.

The Packers may have won, but the more complicated legacy they leave behind involves the sports stars that society exalts time and again. Many argue that these men, with their incredible athletic abilities and multi-million dollar contracts, are getting away with morally reprehensible activities an average man wouldn’t be able to. Others attest that they set a bad precedent for society, one that indicates that it is possible to continue leading an amazing life while not behaving like a decent person. Only the latter statement is actually true. In fact, I see nothing that indicates that professional athletes get any more leniency than the average man when it comes to cases of rape and sexual assault.

Statistically, very few rape cases are actually reported. While actual recent numbers are hard to come by, several studies done in the past decade indicate that only 16 percent of rapes are reported to the police (official justice department numbers say its more around 36 percent). More interestingly, of these reported rapes, around half or more never make it to court and are rejected by prosecutors before they can even see a jury.

Ben Roethlisberger may have gotten off because he cried and gave a half-apology to his team alone, saying “I’m truly sorry for the disappointment and negative attention I brought to my family, my teammates, coaches, the Rooneys and the NFL. I understand that the opportunities I have been blessed with are a privilege, and much is expected of me as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I absolutely want to be the leader this team deserves, valued in the community and a role model to kids. I have much work to do to earn this trust.” If that’s not admittance to wrongdoing, I don’t know what is. But we are ultimately most disappointed in him because he was just not supposed to do this! People like Roethlisberger are a dime a dozen; their activities are shoved in our faces, and they receive little punishment because most “normal” people deal with few repercussions for sexual assault and rape. If those of us who choose football teams along the lines of their players’ criminal records want to make our Super Bowl choices easier, we have to start from the bottom up. It’s easy to blame the big guys; it’s harder to make widespread change that makes us all rethink our demands.



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10 thoughts on “The Post-Super Bowl Sexual Assault Roundup

  1. So we should assume that the police let Ben Roethlisberger off and he was entirely guilty? I can’t agree. The only thing I think Ben was guilty of is poor judgment in his choice of off-time hangouts. What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

    • I couldn’t agree more,seems like Miss Dries wants to be judge and jury,by God if a woman later says it wasn’t consensual,then lock em up!

      • In no way am I trying to “be judge and jury.” Obviously, we’ll probably never know what happened, but the Roethlisberger situation is far too common to assume the best in him. I especially look to his apology I cited in the piece: “I’m truly sorry for the disappointment and negative attention I brought to my family, my teammates, coaches, the Rooneys and the NFL…I have much work to do to earn this trust.” It seems unclear why he would make a vague statement that does not deny his guilt unless he had something to be sorry about. Last time I checked, in most social circles, meeting a girl at a bar when you’re a professional athlete and having consensual sex with her is one of the perks of fame, not something to apologize for.

  2. He settled out of court on one of the cases, so is that an admission of guilt? Hard to say. But I am suspicious when there are multiple accusations leveled at one person. Either he didn’t learn from the first encounter or there’s something more habitually sinister in his demeanor. There’s no way of knowing for sure, sadly.

    • Or–just playing devil’s advocate here–people jumped on the “He’s a bad guy (psst, maybe I’ll get some money out of this)” bandwagon. Dear God, I’m the last person to have this mindset … I sound like boring ;)

  3. A correction is in order here.
    .
    “Steelers players have an equally complex recent history in regards to their treatment of women; six players have been charged by two women for sexual assault. They consist of quarterback Matt Flynn, linebackers Clay Matthews and Brad Jones, fullback Korey Hall, guard Josh Sitton and …
    … safety Khalil Jones. Like Roethlisberger, all who were originally involved have been released of charges. Recently, a new allegation has been pressed against cornerback Brandon Underwood. ”
    .
    I had no idea that these were Steelers.
    .
    Katie, this case is far more complex than you, or I realize.
    I live in the Pittsburgh area and have been a fan since I was a little girl. One of the things that sets the Pittsburgh Steelers apart from many of the other professional sports franchises is the Rooney family, the owners of the Steelers.
    .
    The Rooneys are revered in this area because they are known as a very honest, moral family. They expect a high standard of behavior from their players, but are willing to work with them. If the behavior continues, then they will get rid of the player, regardless of his talent or standing.
    .
    A perfect example of this is Santonio Holmes. The Steelers chose him as a first round draft pick in ’06. He proved to be an extremely talented player, culminating in being named MVP in Super Bowl XLIII (2009).
    .
    He was then traded for a 5th round pick in the 2010 draft. That’s right, just a draft pick, not even a 5th round pick and another player.
    .
    That, my dear – is the equivalent of a sharp slap across the face to a Super Bowl MVP. This is the reason that I believe that there is more to this story than we know.
    We live in a nation of laws, and it works for the most part.
    You ARE innocent unless proven guilty in this country. You can postulate till the cows come home, but unless you are privy to information that the police and prosecutors in Georgia are not, it is kind of foolish to label Roethlisberger a sexual predator. A dumbass? Most likely. But that cannot be prosecuted.
    .
    As for you cheering on the Packers based on this? That is your right, but I think it is a piss poor way to judge a team.
    .
    Having said all of this, it was a great game and the Packers were honestly one of the few teams that I didn’t feel horrible losing to. I like them. I mean come on – it could have been the Pats! brrrrr.

  4. I couldn’t care less about American football, but I disagree with your assessment of the justice system.
    Rape is simply a hard situation. When it comes down to he said-she said, you’re going to have a lot of injustice no matter how hard you try to rule in each situation.
    When sex happened, and he said it was consensual and she said it wasn’t, a lot depends on when she decided it wasn’t. Because horrible as it is, some women do make that decision afterwards and charge rape.
    The American justice system decided that it was better to have many criminals go free than to imprison an innocent man.
    That has worked out to ‘better to let a rapist go free than to imprison an innocent man’.
    Unfortunately a lot of the media, and a lot of women, yourself apparently included seems to have decided ‘better to let ten innocent men be publicly known as rapists for the rest of their lives than to have one probably guilty rapist keep his reputation intact”.

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