Rooneys will handle it
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I know only one thing about the allegations in Georgia of sexual misconduct involving Ben Roethlisberger: that if Roethlisberger is found to have gone beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior, the Rooney family won't hesitate to discipline him.
Beyond that, I know nothing, certainly not the facts behind the allegations against the Steelers' quarterback.
Dan Rooney and his son Art II, who is running the team now while his father serves as ambassador to Ireland, may be the most honorable owners in the NFL, although the Maras, who run the Giants (and are related to the Rooneys by marriage) are there too. And while I can't see a scenario in which the team would cut a $100 million player, I do see one in which he could go on the market quite cheaply. But only if what he is found to have done is heinous and only if it's established that he truly did it.
If that happens, many of the NFL's 32 teams would line up to outbid each other for his services -- few adhere to the standards for behavior set by the Steelers.
Go back three years when the team released Cedrick Wilson, a backup wide receiver who was arrested for punching a former girlfriend. Two weeks earlier, they had taken no action on similar allegations against linebacker James Harrison, a much more important player who went on to become the NFL's defensive player of the year in 2008, when Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl.
Were they treating a star one way and a scrub another? Dan Rooney said no, that Harrison's altercation occurred over taking his son to be baptized, something he wanted and the woman didn't. Wilson's story, he said, was different.
Rooney's statement raised eyebrows among those who thought there were different standards for different levels of players.
But it was typically candid. Rooney is not someone who says "these are my rules and if you break them you're out.'' He's flexible enough to have been the de facto arbitrator in solving three NFL labor disputes and it's why former commissioner Paul Tagliabue turned to him when the league faced a suit over the lack of black coaches in the NFL. Rooney not only helped establish the rules requiring teams to interview minorities for coaching vacancies but he hired an African-American coach himself.
I've heard gossip about Roethlisberger's lack of maturity and I've seen it demonstrated -- in 2006 he was barely escaped serious injury in a motorcycle accident when he foolishly disregarded advice to wear a helmet when he rode.
First let's see what the police in Georgia find and what happens afterward. Depending on the outcome, the Rooneys will make their decision.
I'm sure it will be tougher than most sports franchises would make for their superstars.
March 12, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
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