After hearing the news of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s six-game suspension that can be reduced to four, Bengals safety Chris Crocker had a muted reaction Wednesday. On Tuesday, he was quite vociferous in hoping that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would treat a two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback as harshly as he has treated the league’s rank-and-file.
“I’m not going to bash another player,” Crocker said. “But at the same time I’ll say I don’t know how long he should have gotten or what kind of punishment, but there definitely should have been a punishment.”
Crocker isn’t sure what is fair and not fair. Roethlisberger hasn’t been charged, but the accusations are disturbing. What Crocker does know is that he doesn’t think Goodell should have the only say on player conduct and the question of fairness and consistency has to be addressed in the new collective bargaining agreement.
“I don’t think it’s fair that just one guy makes a decision like that,” Crocker said. “I think there has to be some kind of a committee looking at it instead.”
The Bengals won’t be affected by the suspension because they don’t get the Steelers until the ninth week of the season. Funny how it all works out, isn’t it? The schedule surfaced a week later than usual and, presto, Roethlisberger misses only one division game and no prime-time games.
Of course, there’s a very palatable sense that Ben won’t be there by the time we get going. The Steelers are one of the best covered teams in the NFL with the Gene Alley-Bill Mazeroski double-play combo of Ed Bouchette and Gerry Dulac for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the trade stuff is real if they’re reporting it.
Dulac broke the story Tuesday that the Steelers have not only been contacted by other clubs about a deal for Roethlisberger but that the Steelers have talked about it internally. When we caught up on Wednesday so Dulac could make the Pittsburgh pick in the Bengals.com Media Mock (Idaho guard Mike Iupati), he said the club doesn’t want to actively try to deal Roethlisberger.
“They’ve contacted every club in front of them so they know that they’d be willing to listen to any trade, but that’s just the course of their regular draft business,” Dulac said. “Forget Ben, or a specific trade, that’s just what they do.”
The way the anti-Ben sentiment is festering in Pittsburgh, though, Dulac wouldn’t be surprised either way. The club was furious with the tawdry details of the police report and the smoke from that fire could generate anything. You’re talking about a guy that was already not loved by his teammates and a recent poll question that ignited 3,000 responses in the Pittsburgh area that said 75 percent wouldn’t mind seeing him gone shows he has the same kind of popularity in the fan base.
“He won’t win any Man of the Year awards in the locker room, but they love the way he wins Super Bowls,” Dulac said. “They’ve been able to put that all aside and just catch his passes.”
“Now it’s tough,” Dulac said. “What if he comes back and they’re 3-1 or 4-0? Or what if they’re 1-3 and he comes back and they know he’s the reason why?”
Just for the heck of it, here are the numbers of the veteran Steelers backup quarterbacks against the Bengals:
Bryon Leftwich is 1-0 against them (2005 for Jacksonville) and is 13-for-27 for 195 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Charlie Batch is 0-1 (2001 for the Lions) and in his only game against the Bengals he was 20-for-35 for 239 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Leftwich mopped up for Roethlisberger in the Steelers’ 38-10 win at Paul Brown Stadium in 2008 and completed all three of his passes for 34 yards and a touchdown.
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