The 'conspiracy' against the Steelers
Wednesday, November 24, 2010 12:15 AM
Written by Bob Smizik
Are the National Football League and commissioner Roger Goodell out to get the Steelers?
There are a lot of fans who believe as much. Letís talk about it.
A lot of this talk began with Goodell's decision to suspend Roethlisberger at the start of the season. This was highly unusual since Roethlisberger had not only not been convicted of a crime, he had not be charged with a crime.
So when he went down for four games, Goodell became Public Enemy No. 1 to Steelers fans. Commissioners are easy to hate (Bud Selig, Gary Bettman) and Goodell only added to his tarnish with his perceived ill-treatment of Roethlisberger.
What we donít know is the full story on Roethlisberger. We know a lot of it. Weíve read the transcripts and all the stories. But we donít know what Goodellís investigators found and we donít know what Roethlisberger told Goodell.
It is important to note that no one -- not Roethlisberger, not his agent, not his lawyers, not the Steelers -- made any significant attempt to appeal his suspension. That says a lot. It says to me that Roethlisberger got what he deserved.
The NFL is not in the habit of casually suspending big-time stars who play for flagship franchises owned by one of the most revered families in sports.
Next came the crack down on James Harrison. Goodell and his associates were tough on the Steelers fearsome linebacker. But if the NFL were really out to get the Steelers, it would have suspended Harrison. It did not.
So what we have is a quarterback who was a bad boy and a linebacker who plays the game at, perhaps, too high a level of intensity.
That hardly sets the Steelers apart from many other teams in the league that have players with character issues.
I do not have access to all the players who have been fined by the NFL in regard to the leagueís crackdown on safety issues. What ever the number of Steelers who have been fined -- and they are not the only team that has players who have been fined -- these monetary penalties in no way have affected the Steelers ability to win on the field.
The outcry that came from Sundayís game was legitimate. The refs stunk. But they did not cost the Steelers the game. They did not come close to costing the Steelers the game.
The refs could have cost the Steelers in the game against the Miami Dolphins, but did not.
Does that sound like a league out ``to get'' the Steelers?
Furthermore, the logistics of trying ``to getíí a team are so impossible that half the world would know about it if it were true.
The whole thing is ridiculous and itís hard to imagine anyone with any common sense thinking the NFL, a billion-dollar industry, would take a chance on destroying its credibility by trying ``to getíí one franchise.
As to the other ``conspiracy theory,íí that Goodell is trying to turn the NFL into a flag football league and in the process destroy the Steelers' identity: Why would he do that?
What would he endanger the most popular sport in the country?
Yes, he is attempting to make changes in the way the game is played in terms of player safety. Some people think this will turn the league into a sissy sport.
I can only speak for myself, but Iíve seen little to support that theory. It's true, the refs were totally out of kilter Sunday and made some outlandish calls against the Steelers. I donít think weíll see many more calls like that.
The league has done a poor job in communicating with the players, officials and fans the new rules. But in time there will be more consistency and the game will remain ferocious and brutal.
The NFL is not going to become flag football and the Steelers, at 7-3, are not being targeted by Goodell.
End of story.