A Tale Of Two Football Players
By now, you've probably heard that Browns receiver Braylon Edwards has been accused of attacking a man outside a Cleveland club late Sunday night, after another Browns loss. Because, in part, Edwards is a Cleveland celebrity, and in part because the alleged attackee is close friends with LeBron James, it has been all over the local media. Now, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league may investigate the incident (a police complaint was finally filed by alleged victim Edward Givens on Monday).
Here's a quote from the PD article about the league's code of conduct:
Meanwhile, the NFL investigation could result in discipline if Edwards is judged to have violated the league's strict personal conduct policy.
"We are looking into it as we would any such incident," said Greg Aiello, NFL spokesman, in an e-mail.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has been vigilant in disciplining players for casting the league in a bad light.
The personal conduct policy explicitly states: "It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. Instead, as an employee of the NFL or a member club, you are held to a higher standard and expected to conduct yourself in a way that is responsible, promotes the values upon which the league is based, and is lawful."
I am, of course, a Browns fan. But if Edwards is indeed guilty of behaving like an ass, I don't really have a problem with some kind of disciplinary action.
But I can't help but notice that the alleged incident-- and all the resultant coverage-- follows a Sunday night game where Ben Roethlisberger was allowed to lead his Pittsburgh Steelers to victory against the San Diego Chargers. If you only get your sports news from ESPN, you might not have heard, but "Big Ben" currently faces a civil suit accusing him of rape. He also faces recent allegations that he harassed employees at a Nevada club (all of this on top of his earlier motorcycle madness). Goodell made a pro forma statement when the rape charges broke in late July, saying the league would "look into it," but it seems to have disappeared down the memory hole in time for one of the league's premiere teams to start their season, and their star player to take the field (especially when those Sunday night NBC dollars are on the line).
Roethlisberger's defenders have repeatedly said that the accusations differ because they come in civil suit, not a criminal case. But if we're really supposed to believe that self-righteous code of conduct quoted above (the one Goodell has used to suspend numerous players in the last two years without any criminal charges brought against them), that legal difference is completely irrelevant.
Surely, a rape accusation is not something that "promotes the values upon which the league is based," is it? Why the quick rush to judge on Braylon, and not Big Ben? Or does violence against club owners rate higher with the Commish than violence aginst women?