By: Joe D.
According to reports, the Pittsburgh Steelers are in discussions with the league office regarding punishment of their two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. They will collaborate to have one punishment exacted upon Roethlisberger rather than two seperate punishments.
I believe the Steelers organization is taking this action for two reasons. First, it is a strong public relations response to appease their fanbase who are fed up with the sophmoric behavior of their star quarterback. They wish to appear pro-active in the punishment phase. Secondly, the Steelers organization may be able to minimize the effects of the punishment by lobbying for an easier schedule during Roethlisberger’s absense.
If the Steelers were genuinely interested in punishing Roethlisberger, the organization would wait until the league’s decision and then add an additional suspension. I sincerely doubt the Steelers would add any additional games to an 8 games suspension or even wish to add one game to a 2 game suspension. What the organization is doing is tantamount to asking to put their name on a card when they haven’t contributed to a gift. “I would have gotten them something nice, but I was just too busy. You know how it is, right?” In this case, the Steelers are too cowardly to reprimand Roethlisberger in any meaningful way. Certainly fans are not so naive to believe the league will impose only a two game suspension and the Steelers suggest adding several more weeks.
It is unlikely Roethlisberger’s suspension will be greater than two games. As most fans know, a 2 games out of a 16 game schedule can determine whether a team makes the playoffs and consequently whether they will be contending for a Super Bowl. If the Steelers can manage with Charlie Batch at QB during that stretch finishing either 1-1 or 2-0, the Steelers chances at being a Super Bowl contender are not heavily diminished.
The announcement of the 2010 NFL schedule has been delayed for a variety of reasons. Roethlisberger’s punishment will be announced soon. The league will deny that Roethlisberger’s punishment affects the schedule. Obviously the Steelers would prefer winnable games during that stretch; additionally, it is in the best interest of the league to not have a Monday Night game with Batch leading the Steelers onto the field?
The 2010 NFL schedule will be released on April 20, 2010. I am not clairvoyant, but it isn’t a stretch of the imagination to predict the Steelers will be playing weak opponents to start 2010. I would be incredibly surprised if the Steelers play either a good divisional opponent (Ravens or Bengals) or a Super Bowl contender (e.g, New England, New York Jets, or New Orleans Saints). The suspension will undoubtedly come at the beginning of the season, giving the Steelers organization a full pre-season schedule to acclimate Batch into a starting role against soon to be announced inferior opponents.
While the Steelers finished with an 9-7 record in 2009, they are quite talented and are poised to add additional playmakers in the 2010 draft (2 picks in the top 52 selections). If the team is given junior varsity games (Browns, Buccaneers, Bills) to start the season, the player may be punished monetarily, but not the franchise.