Congratulations are in order for the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Congratulations for making it to one of the biggest sporting events in the country. But not everyone going deserves that distinction, least of all a Vince Lombardi trophy and a diamond-encrusted ring. While Ben Roethlisberger may already have two rings from previous wins, he is the antithesis of what a professional athlete should be.
In early March of last year, accusations of sexual assault against a Georgia college student by Roethlisberger were brought to light. The woman never brought charges against Roethlisberger for fear of the media intrusion but didn’t recant her accusations. It was Roethlisberger’s second sexual assault accusation. His punishment? NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him for six games without pay, which ended up only being for four.
“You have first thrilled and now disappointed a great many people,” Goodell wrote to Roethlisberger. “I urge you to take full advantage of this opportunity to get your life and career back on track.”
The cycle of felonious activity off the field and a welcome return to the game once the season starts is atrocious. Current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, for months, was the subject of ridicule and hatred for running an interstate dog-fighting ring, even shooting and electrocuting dogs to death. He served 21 months in prison and two additional months in home confinement.
When the Atlanta Falcons no longer wanted Vick, they released him. He was picked up by Philadelphia and made his return as a starter in September of the 2010 season. He was hailed as the prodigal son during his return.
The NFL needs stricter ethical guidelines for the players. The ability for a player to commit a felony and come back to the league is hypocritical. These professional athletes commit to playing for a team for millions of dollars and stand as role models to children and adults alike across the country.
The league needs to take more action against unlawful activities outside of the game. The players are treated like children and get a minor slap on the wrist. Instead, commissioner Goodell needs to make an example out of the players who don’t meet strict ethical guidelines in order to instill a sense of propriety in players who have gone their entire lives getting what they want because of their athletics skills. Otherwise, before you know it, no one will bat an eyelash when the number one athlete in the country is a convicted rapist or murderer.