Amid charges that the Pittsburgh Steelers might be employing some racial bias for trading away African-American player Santonio Holmes for his sins, but not Ben Roethlisberger, who’s white, here are five reasons that should dispel any cries of racial bias.
ESPN columnist Jemele Hill said that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s non-handling of the Big Ben scandals has smacked of racial bias. “And surely the commissioner has noticed that Roethlisberger’s case is becoming a racial litmus test,” she wrote.
Likewise, a sports columnist for the New Orleans newspaper Times-Picayune has suggested that the Steelers owners may be pulling a racial play-action by trading wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who was accused of throwing a glass at a woman and cutting her eye, and who’s black, while keeping Roethlisberger on the team.
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Steelers players “probably won’t be pleased if it appears Holmes was singled out for his stupidity, while Roethlisberger receives a pass on his,” wrote the Times-Pic columnist John DeShazier.
The NFL should certainly be held accountable for how it handles Roethlisberger. And if they believe that Vick should be punished for dogs he didn’t lay a hand on, as opposed to Roethlisberger who is not denying that he did lay a hand on the woman accusing him of sexual assault, then that’s problematic logic that says a dog’s life is more important than a woman’s.
As for the Steelers, the franchise is a lot of things. Racist is not one of them. These five reasons alone should cancel any cry for racism against the Black-and-Gold administration:
1. The Rooney Rule
The policy that requires teams looking for a new head coach to interview at least one that’s not white came from Steelers owner Dan Rooney. Before the NFL adopted it in 2006, only 6 percent of head coaches were black. After it, that number jumped to 22 percent. Before 2006, no black coach had ever won the Super Bowl. Since the Rooney Rule, there have been two, the Indianapolis Colts’ Tony Dungy, the first African-American to do it — who also won against another black coach, Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears — and the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin.
2. Dan Rooney
Besides instituting the Rule, Rooney was actively involved in hiring Mike Tomlin. Two years after that hire, the Steelers won the Super Bowl. In 2008, Rooney endorsed Barack Obama and actively stumped for him during his run for president. Obama ended up President.
3. Mike Tomlin
The call to trade Santonio Holmes was no doubt informed by black head coach Tomlin. The Steelers were already prepared to deal Holmes away anyway due to a string of incidences dating back to his rookie year. And trust that Tomlin will ultimately decide how to deal with Roethlisberger as well.