Every few years, there’s a rash of shark attacks along the east coast here in the U.S.A. The most recent time sharks were particularly hungry was in 2001, which TIME dubbed the “Summer of the Shark.” I remember being afraid to go into the ocean that year because I was scared to death some blood thirsty shark would turn my teenage body into brunch.
What I would later come to understand was that the “Summer of the Shark” was a total lie. Shark attacks were actually down a fair amount in 2001 when compared to previous years. But it was a slow news time and the media just kind of got carried away with the shark fanaticism. It was to the point where every shark sighting got hours of live coverage from Geraldo along the Florida coast.
Unfortunately, the Steelers have now turned into the sharks and this is not going to be a fun summer.
When Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault last summer, he got a free pass from almost all fans and media. The lady seemed a little too crazy and Roethlisberger a little too goofy to do anything that heinous. But when Roethlisberger was stupid enough to either sexually assault another woman again or put himself in a position where it could be misconstrued that he did, things changed.
All of a sudden the goofy looking, ultra-clutch QB looked like a serial rapist. Eeesh. And when Roethlisberger looks like a criminal, the Steelers look like criminals because he’s the face of the franchise. He’s not flashy, but he’s a winner. He’s Pittsburgh to a lot of people.
When things couldn’t get worse, Santonio Holmes is named in a civil lawsuit and “Summer of the Shark” has officially began.
Holmes civil lawsuit is something that is probably mentioned, but not a big story on a national scale. But Roethlisberger’s mistakes have brought a giant microscope over the entire organization and now the whole roster looks like a bunch of criminals. Any benefit of the doubt that the Steelers once had or any “higher standard” held fast by the organization is gone. The Steelers are thugs. Period. Whether that statement is factually true or not doesn’t matter. The image has been cast.
Last week, Roethlisberger didn’t show up to Pittsburgh for voluntary offseason workouts. The “story” was the number two headline on Yahoo! Sports for better part of a day. It was all over the ESPN bottom line. Curiously enough, James Farrior didn’t show up for offseason workouts. Neither did many of the Steelers other veterans. Roethlisberger’s absence wasn’t eye-opening by any means, but since he’s destroyed his image now his absence just piles on his growing list of misconduct.
It’s getting to the point that if Brett Keisel doesn’t leave a 10 percent tip at Eat’N’Park this weekend, I expect to read a blog post from MJD about it. When Charlie Batch skips line at the PNC Park box office, Rachel Nichols will be live to deliver a live report every twenty minutes.
The only good thing about the recent misconduct is that it will put an end to the giant myth that the Steelers organization is operated at a significantly higher moral standard than other NFL franchises. I’ve always loathed this arrogance, shown mostly by the fans. The Steelers have done nothing to guys like James Harrison and Roethlisberger when they’ve gotten in trouble. Cutting an aging and mostly useless Cedric Wilson doesn’t make your organization better than everybody else. Winning football games comes first for the Steelers, not winning a badge of honor for moral conduct.
Long story short: Anything the Steelers do remotely wrong for the next few years is going to be a huge deal…even if it really isn’t…and it is Ben Roethlisberger’s fault. His desire to fornicate at all possible moments has cast a shadow over the entire organization that won’t be easy to clear.
The Steelers are the new Oakland Raiders or Cincinatti Bengals for the foreseable future. Start bracing yourself. It’s going to be a summer of shark attacks.