Monday, April 19, 2010

Big Ben to sit down in 2010?

While Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's legal problems appear to have passed (click here for excerpts from the police investigation), he is now awaiting word from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as to how many games he will miss this coming season. Despite the fact that Mr. Roethlisberger was not arrested and that no charges will be filed as a result of the alleged incidents in Georgia, the NFL has deemed fit to suspend Big Ben in 2010.

As I was driving from the courthouse to the office this morning I happened to catch Dylan Gwinn's (a/k/a "The Mighty Gwinn) show on Sports Talk 790 in which he weighed in on the Roethlisberger drama. As you may know, Roethlisberger's (now former) teammate Santonio Holmes was traded from the Steelers to the New York Jets after being sued by a woman for allegedly throwing a glass at her in a bar. According to Mr. Gwinn, there are those in the Steel City clamoring for the Steelers to cut ties with Big Ben and trade him before next week's draft.

But what I found interesting was Mr. Gwinn's assertion that the name of the game in the NFL is winning the Super Bowl and that because the Steelers have won two Super Bowls with Roethlisberger behind the wheel that the owners of the Steelers would be crazy to trade him. I do agree with the statement that the NFL is a business. But I would argue that winning the Super Bowl is not the ultimate goal for an owner of an NFL franchise. The ultimate goal is the same as in any other business - maximizing profit.

The Houston Texans are one of the league's most profitable teams - but nowhere near the Super Bowl (well, maybe about 240 miles from next year's edition). I think Bob McNair would rather ramp up the cash flow and increase the market value of the team than win a Super Bowl.

My point being that Art Rooney II, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers is one of the most image-conscious owners in the NFL. He understands that sports isn't just about the game -- it's about entertainment -- and if your star brings too much negative attention to your product, well, that's just not good for the bottom line.

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