Monday, May 3, 2010

The Ben Roethlisberger Effect

Its been weeks since the Ben Roethlisberger rape chargers made headline news. Yet, we are still feeling the effects. And as a woman, I feel outraged and sickened by him, his alleged actions and wish there was more respect for the victim. However, as a sports blog, its amazing the lingering impact this one act has had on the National Football League.

1. Tim Tebow, Myron Rolle, Stafon Johnson, drafting on character.

Tim Tebow is currently not an NFL caliber quarterback. That's my opinion; its most people's opinion. He was a good leader at Florida. And his running ability and work ethic made him an interesting addition to many teams. Tim Tebow is like a great filling meal at Cracker Barrel. A little out of date, slightly confusing, but in the end, you're full and it was real food. But you don't spend more than twenty bucks on your meal. Josh McDaniels and the Broncos just paid a thousand dollars for a Cracker Barrel meal. Why? Because he's the anti-Ben Roethlisberger. You might not get a man with a gun for an arm and vast knowledge of the quarterback position. But you also won't get a guy who will be arrested on a gun charge. The Denver Broncos will now always (okay, maybe not always but for at least the next year) be known as the people who were more committed to the quality of the character of the player than the actual playing ability of the player.

Character. What exact qualifications make a football player a man of good character? I'm not going to argue on Tebow's character at all. I don't know him at all. I just fail to believe that Tim Tebow was the only man of great character to come out of this draft. Myron Rolle famously left Florida State and accepted his Rhodes Scholarship. He accepted the risk that he might be giving up an NFL career to pursue his other great love, education. Myron Rolle has never been in the headlines for causing trouble. Becoming a Rhodes Scholar is not easy. Presidents are Rhodes Scholars. Here is a man both gifted academically and physically. Tim Tebow was drafted 25th. Myron Rolle 207th. Yes, Rolle missed a year of playing time. Drops his stock a little. But unlike Tebow, he doesn't have to nearly completely re-engineer his mechanics to play his position.

Stafon Johnson. Okay, I'm a homer. I love the Trojans. I remember where I was when I heard about Stafon's injury. I remember feeling scared. I remember sitting, constantly refreshing my twitter in hopes of getting an update that he was okay. Flash foward to the combine. And here is a man who is lucky to be a live, bench pressing, doing the same activity that nearly killed him. Were his numbers the best? No. Is he completely healed? I don't know. But his amount of determination, heart and dedication to the game can not be measured. A father, a god fearing man - according to interviews and his twitter - and a great ball player, yet he went undrafted. And yes, he, like Rolle, was a risk to draft. Without the playing time it was hard to gauge what kind of skill set he would be bringing to a team.

These three men are, I'm sure all great men, with sound characters and souls. Yet, one was the story of the draft, two were after thoughts. If this really was the draft of chosing character over pure skills, then why were Rolle and Johnson left out of the headlines?

It wasn't about character. It was about PR. Everyone knows Tebow. Superbowl ad, missionary, solid family, good student, make Urban Meyer defend him to the press Tim Tebow. Like his skills or not, most sports fans know he's not a trouble maker. Does any casual fan of the nfl know about Rolle or Johnson? What was really more important? Drafting a player of quality character or having people talk about you drafting a player of quality character?

2. Dez Bryant.

Is your mother a prostitute?

Ben Roethlisberger made the Pittsburgh Steelers pay a price for his actions. Teams saw Roger Goodell's reaction and discipline and probably smartly decided that they needed to get a handle on their players before things got out of hand. First round draft picks make a lot of money. Without a minute of playing time, owners and teams hand over more money than most of us will see in our lives. They have a right to know who they're giving this money too, to be sure that this person isn't going to cost them later on. But at what point does this questioning cross the line?

Dez Bryant didn't play football his last year in college. I heard a national sports radio personality say that the questioning by the Miami Dolphins was justified because clearly Bryant had issues; he didn't play his final year because of his baggage. Dez Bryant didn't play his final year of college ball for one reason: he lied. He did. Because he was afraid that his innocent act of having lunch would be considered wrong. So he lied. That's not baggage. That's what people do. Doesn't matter what your mom did/does or who you are, you're a kid, you think someone might believe you broke a rule, you probably will lie. So no, I am not going to believe that Dez Bryant's past actions led to this questioning.

Here's a question I could live with. "Have you ever hired a prostitute?" or "Do you have lingering issues from your childhood that you have trouble dealing with or that you believe have impacted you decision and your life?"

Those are valid. Those help you determine the character.

Today, ESPN broke a story about how Dez Bryant's mom has had other run-ins with the law. I DON'T CARE. A couple of weeks ago there was massive issues about espn showing the Jerry Jones video - is it news worthy? Why aren't we questioning the news worthy-ness of Dez Bryant's mom's issues. Its not important in my life, in your life. His coaches, friends, counselors can be there for him, help him decide if he's healthy, if he's dealing with things properly, if he's well adjusted.

I hope Dez Bryant has a great career. And I don't like the cowboys, so me saying this, is not easy.

It seems to me that we - the NFL, owners, consumers - want a quick and easy answer to the "character" issue. Glitz and glamour will still sell us, just make sure its classy. And easy answers like 'his mom has issues' or 'he had concussions' give us reasons and easy things to point fingers at; we can brush them away and cut them out. That is not how you make people of strong characters.

Side note: a new show on TLC just started while I was writing this. Fame and Recovery. LT tells us all about Coke. As does former Miss USA. Thanks America. Proving points better than my words.


  1. Good stuff Jayme. Love the point about the prostitute question. And you are 100% correct, for better or for worse Tebow was a PR move.

  2. Yea. Keep writing. Even though I have no clue what you are talking about, you write well, and I can tell you care about what you are writing about. Thusly, you write, I read.

  3. Let me clarify, I know some of what you are writing about here. Now if we are talking soccer, I'm all over it!