The League

Jason Maloni
Crisis Communications Expert

Jason Maloni

Senior Vice President with
Levick Strategic Communications
and Chair of the firm's Sports & Entertainment Practice.

Innocent until proven guilty

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Columnist Frank Deford recently pointed out that athletes seem to get a raw deal went it comes to public scrutiny of their private lives. Hollywood celebrities and recording artists seem to get a pass when they wreck cars, drive intoxicated, and even when they are arrested for possession of drugs. Our nation elected a President who apparently had "youthful indiscretions" in his 40s. But sports stars don't seem to get that same understanding from the general public. Perhaps it's because more kids, understandably, idolize Sidney Crosby than they do Charlie Sheen. Perhaps it's because we want the athletes we see on the field to be the same people off the field. Somehow we get it that Hollywood stars are acting and musicians are performing. Whether it's in a TV sitcom or a movie theater, the public is able to separate the person from the character.

In any case, the scrutiny on Ben Roethlisberger is to be expected both because of a separate allegation against Ben last year in Nevada, but also because this recent incident follows on the heels of the Tiger Woods fiasco. Plus it's the offseason and football fanatics need something to feed the talk radio beast and post about online.

Regardless, Ben is entitled to not be judged until more facts emerge. The FBI followed the wrong guy for years who was a suspect in the Anthrax letters after 9/11. A security guard's life was ruined because authorities thought he was responsible for the bomb that killed a person at the Atlanta Olympics. And let's not forget the Duke lacrosse team that was convicted in the court of public opinion almost immediately.

Here's a news flash for America: sports stars are allowed to date women, drink alcohol and spend ridiculous amounts of money. They are obligated to do no more than the rest of us and that's obey the law. Until more facts -- facts mind you -- emerge in the latest Roethlisberger incident, give Ben the same consideration we'd all hope to receive as private citizens.

That's the least we can do.

By Jason Maloni  |  March 12, 2010; 12:48 PM ET  | Category:  Ben Roethlisberger , Jason Maloni , NFL , Pittsburgh Steelers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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"Innocent until proven guilty" is a legal concept that refers to the government's burden of proof in a criminal case. To the extent it is relevant to public opinion as is posited here, the difficulty is that, by presuming Roethlisberger innocent, one is also presuming that the accuser lied--and most people, I imagine, will think it more plausible than the accused's denial is false than that the accusation is false. False sex-assault reports are rare, despite the media's and fans' immediate resort to such theories in cases like this. To deny what one is truthfully accused of, on the other hand, is nearly universal behavior.

Posted by: jfiorill | March 12, 2010 3:49 PM

I HOPE SOMEBODY GOES AND PROTEST Ben Roethlisberger FOR RAPING WOMEN LIKE HE'S Pepe Le Pew!!!!! and Mark McGuire too sense you missed heckling him because he left before you found out. If Ben can play then Adam “Pacman” Jones can to. They gave pacman an “Outside the Lines” report but Floyd Landis an Ben get a line across the screen. Look at the leader of 2 Superbowls for the Steeler taking Pu$$$y but Nancy Grace comes out for Tiger Woods, Chris Brown, Kobe, Vick, Kanye West and even Charles Barkley but no Roethlisberger media monster to feed!! Where is Roger Clemens’ “Game of Shadows”. You haters are funny like that. The media monster is chasing Glenn Beck’s viewers and rating. I see now. Bottom line is that if Ben can be the face of a franchise then I think Adam “Pacman” Jones can play and Vick hurt dogs but Ben rapes women!!!!!! Pacman Jone was never been charged nor has Marvin Harrison but they got the media’s guilty until guilty treatment. Just accused. As big as domestic violents was with Chris Brown and Kobe, but this guy is accused of raping two women(the media didn’t tell us about the first one until a year later?) Let me guess it just sliped your mind. Yah right. Tiger Woods cheated and people act like he raped all the women involved. (his wife and the mistresses)

Posted by: gokusc1 | March 13, 2010 8:55 AM

Mr. Maloni:

Newsflash: Roethlisberger will be judged by the public long before he is judged in court. No offense, sir, but isn't that why people like you are around? So that when athletes and celebrities are judged by the public you can clean up their image?

It's difficult to discern where you stand on a number of issues because your opinion is never consistent..not to mention most of your posts have typos and are grammatically incorrect.

Please, stop trying to sell your company's services and start writing how you actually feel. We all want to hear YOUR opinion, not what you think Ben Roethlisbeger would want you to say.

Posted by: skins2wins | March 26, 2010 12:32 PM

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