Roethlisberger? Engagement? Are we sure he’s qualified?
The opinions expressed in this blog do NOT represent those of my employer, the Toronto Star, or anybody I might happen to freelance for. The represent my views and my views alone, so if I write something that makes you nod I accept the credit. And if I write something that makes you mad enough to curse… I accept the credit.
I make the disclaimer not because I sit down at my keyboard planning to stir up controversy, but because I plan to keep it honest on this blog and don’t want anyone else implicated in my flagrant acts of frankness. And I just figured I should clarify any murky areas regarding opinions and their owners before we discussed Ben Roethlisberger.
Did you guys hear he’s engaged?
He wouldn’t confirm it Tuesday afternoon but apparently rumours that he’s putting a ring on a mystery girl’s finger have been percolating in Pittsburgh for a while.
Whether or not it actually happened, the thought of Big Ben popping one very big question provokes several smaller ones for many of us.
Who is this woman?
When is the wedding?
Are they working on a prenup?
But the question that appeared instantly in my mind was this:
Why aren’t more people questioning whether a man with Roethlisberger’s *ahem* “history” is qualified to take a woman on a date, let alone to the altar?
Wait, is that question even relevant?
In most cases it’s not, at least not for me. Talk to me long enough and you’ll learn that the last thing I worry about is what goes down between adults who either know what they’re getting into or are big enough to deal with the consequences if the situation sours. I’ll never engage in a same-sex marriage but I’d never deny somebody else’s right to choose it.
And if Morgan Freeman wants to go ahead and marry his grown step-granddaughter let them make it happen.
He could give the bride away to himself.
What takes place between consenting adults is their business, not mine, the blogosphere’s or the mainstream media’s.
But a woman’s consent is a tricky issue for Roethlisberger. He’s never been convicted of a crime but a string of accusations hints that he might have trouble understanding the word “no” when a woman utters it.
Given Roethlisberger’s background, and the fact that the most recent alleged sexual assault took place less than a year ago, I expected the prospect of his engagement to prompt a fierce debate among bloggers and columnists about his fitness as a potential spouse.
And when the first links to Roethlisberger engagment stories popped up in my twitter feed I braced for a flood of reaction from commentators and activists demanding Roethlisberger go to rehab and prove to us he’s outgrown his (allegedly) abusive past and deserves the privilege of having a wife.
Still bracing, which is strange.
After all, weren’t outrage and disbelief what greeted reports last month the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick planned to buy a dog as soon as permitted by the terms of the probation he’s currently serving for bankrolling a dogfighting ring?
This same Michael Vick served 19 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to dogfighting charges in 2007, and once released from prison this same Michael Vick sat out two games in 2009 while serving an NFL-imposed suspension stemming from his criminal case.
And this same Michael Vick has partnered with the Humane Society and become a vehement critic of cruelty to animals.
Yet despite serving hard time, rehabbing his image and apparently growing the hell up, Vick’s revelation that he hoped to buy a dog next year caused critics to question not just whether he was qualified to care for a pet but whether he even deserved the joy of owning one.
Unfair for sure, but understandable. Vick’s history is his history and even though we should all have moved beyond it some people just can’t.
But then what about Roethlisberger?
Why does the prospect of placing a dog with a former abuser evoke outrage, while the idea of a woman binding herself for life with a man who has victimized women prompt little meaningful reaction?
If people are skeptical that Vick’s jail term, soul-searching and community service haven’t transformed him into a man capable of caring for a pet, why are they convinced that the last nine months have turned Roethlisberger into a man capable teaming up with a woman in a meaningful, lifelong partnership?
Or do people just not care?
Clearly not, because if they did they’d be easier on Vick for wanting a dog and harder on Roethlisberger for thinking he’s ready to be somebody’s husband.
If you still don’t feel me think about it this way:
Who do you think will catch more hell over their life span, Michael Vick’s future pet or Ben Roethlisberger’s future wife?
I’d bet my penthouse it’s not the dog.
That dog would live its entire life beneath the media’s magnifying glass and Vick knows it, and will ensure that any canine addition to his family is the planet’s most pampered mutt.
I’m pretty sure Michael Vick’s dog eats cooked food and and I bet his doghouse has central heating and guest bedroom.
And that spot every dog has that makes their leg twitch in ecstasy every time you scratch it? Vick’s dog is getting that all day every day if he wants it because Vick knows we’ll all be watching, and that anything less than outright spoilage will give critics a reason to rip him.
We don’t know if Roethlisberger’s woman gets even half that much attention.
This isn’t to compare wives to pets, or to imply that a man has to treat his woman like a pampered princess. But nine months past Roethlisberger’s latest sexual assault allegation we don’t know if he’s capable of treating her like an equal.
And if we’re treating all quarterbacks equally it’s got to raise some questions.
But I’m still waiting to hear them.