The loudest peep the Pittsburgh Steelers have made during this offseason was announcing the release of some heavy and unwanted baggage in the form of LaMarr Woodley. Sure, they’ve picked up players here and there and released others, got what should be a good assistant coach, but it’s been pretty quiet all in all. That’s not the same for some other teams across the NFL who are having to face headlines of legal trouble more than headlines of looking forward to a playoff bound 2014.
In the last week alone, the San Francisco 49’ers have been hit with two separate incidences that have moved the media crosshairs right to their front door. The first was with Niner QB Collin Kaepernick. There are conflicting reports now about what really happened in an apartment down in Miami with a woman, Kaepernick and some Seattle Seahawks. There is absolutely not enough information to judge this situation. I won’t even come close. But, I will say this – there’s about 1,600 NFL athletes who would know you need to stay out of situations that might implicate you in some wrongdoing in a police report. Kaepernick could very well be exonerated, but the PR damage has been done for now.
The second incident occurred on Sunday when Niner OLB Aldon Smith decided it would be a great idea to threaten folks at the airport that he was in possession of a bomb. Smith already has a wrap sheet (four arrests since 2012), and this very well could be enough of a felony offense that the 49’ers won’t have to worry about how they need to deal with him – the feds will do that for them. But, let’s say Aldon somehow avoids the slammer. The NFL and Rodger Goodell will have to step in and pass their own judgement.
Which leads me to why Steeler Nation might be interested in not only the 49’ers and their own troubles but other teams as well. I don’t think anyone really needs a summation of 2009 and 2010 off-seasons and Ben Roethlisberger. The important thing to point out here is that Roethlisberger was never officially charged or booked with a crime. He may have been dumb by putting himself into two separate incidences that proved to be morally questionable, but he was never found guilty of any crime. He was, however, suspended for six games going into the 2010 season because Rodger Goodell felt that Roethlisberger tarnished the shield of the NFL as an upstanding and moral organization – the player code of conduct.
Fast forward to 2014 and Collin Kaepernick could find himself in a similar situation. Accused, never found guilty, but putting himself in a situation he should have never been in. And, that’s the way the league will see it. Right? Right? Don’t tell me that Big Ben isn’t watching this one closely. Mr. Goodell, we await the six game suspension and subsequent three game appeal over the summer.
Let’s say that Aldon Smith dodges hard time at the pen for his ultra idiotic move at LAX. The league and Goodell will have to absolutely drop the hammer on Smith harder than Smith drops QB’s every Sunday. His career in San Francisco is probably over. Even if Smith does serve time, if and when he would return to the NFL, the league should still enforce a suspension. I doubt ‘bomb threat’ is directly listed in the code of conduct’s list of no no’s. But, Smith’s actions certainly tarnished the shield and should enforce the max penalty possible.
There are other legal incidences from other NFL’ers, and the league sits in a position to make sure that they stay consistent with code violations and proper consequences – Ray Rice sits near the tops of that list. You can be sure that there are some in Steeler Nation waiting for the suspensions to roll. If Ben got six games for 2010, certainly some of these other schmoes deserve just as much if not more.
The Commish can be sure that if suspensions don’t roll out for most of these players, he can be sure to receive a ton of hate mail (more than the usual) from Steeler Nation.