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.
March 12, 2010; 12:48 PM ET
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Posted by: jfiorill | March 12, 2010 3:49 PM
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