It's been more than eight months since Roger Goodell suspended Ben Roethlisberger for six games for what the commissioner determined at the time was a violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy for his involvement with a 20-year-old college student who accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Georgia nightclub in March.
We all know the story by now – a six game suspension (eventually reduced to four) even though no charges were ever filed against the quarterback.
By now, Roethlisberger had to have let the animosity toward Goodell subside. That's what time does … or so they say.
But as long as it takes severe wounds to heal, they can be opened up in a virtual heartbeat.
Enter Brett Favre and the culmination of the sexting scandal on Wednesday.
The NFL announced that it fined Favre $50,000 for failing to be forthright regarding the scandal involving former Jets employee Jenn Sterger, to whom Favre allegedly sent obscene text photos.
Get this – the league it couldn't determine whether the inappropriate images originated from Favre.
Hmm, where did I hear that before?
Sounds sort of like what the Georgia district attorney said when he announced to the world that he couldn't determine that Roethlisberger did any wrongdoing in that night club to be able to go forward and charge him.
Still, Roethlisberger was suspended for a month that cost him an estimated $2 million in salary and put the Steelers in a dire predicament for a quarter of the season.
On the other hand, Favre got nothing more than a slap on the wrist for a guy making something in the neighborhood of $20 million this year.
Don't even think for a minute Roethlisberger isn't stewing over the hypocrisy in private, as well he should be.
As time goes on, it has become more and more evident that Goodell wanted to make an example out of Roethlisberger and the Favre ruling was just the icing on the cake cementing that fact that Ben was treated unfairly and differently than his peers.
You say you aren't convinced that Goodell wanted to make an example out of Big Ben? Well, take this into account:
Since Goodell suspended Roethlisberger on April 22, 20 players around the league have been arrested on various charges. Not one was suspended even for a play by Goodell for violating the personal conduct penalty.
We are talking about domestic battery, DUI, assault and battery, domestic violence and drug charges, and not one suspension resulting in any of the arrests? That's a big change in the way the NFL offices and Goodell did business BBB – before Big Ben.
Goodell suspended 15 players over his first four years with Roethlisberger being No. 16. Since making an example out of Roethlisberger, the suspensions have gone dry.
I think not.
Cedric Benson was arrested for assault a week after Roethlisberger's suspension and was not disciplined. In years prior, Goodell suspended Ricky Manning, Rocky Bernard and Larry Johnson a game each for being arrested on assault charges.
The coup de grace came Wednesday when the NFL decided to not suspend Favre because obviously Goodell didn't want to tarnish the image of the league by suspending one of the best quarterbacks the league has ever seen for the final game of his illustrious career.
The NFL said that Favre was being fined for "a failure to cooperate with the investigation in a forthcoming manner" and that Favre was "not candid in several respects during the investigation resulting in a longer review and additional negative public attention for Favre, Sterger and the NFL."
I guess lying isn't part of the personal conduct policy?
Some much for Goodell being tough on players who embarrass the league. So much for nobody being off-limits.
All the Roethlisberger, and now Favre, punishments have said to the league is that Goodell can't be taken seriously when it comes to player conduct matters anymore.
You can't justify being suspension-happy the first couple years of your reign, culminating with the grand daddy of them all – a high-profiled quarterback like Roethlisberger being put in his place – then let things slide after that.
You can't assure players that suspension on multiple time offenders of helmet-to-helmets hits were going to happen, then not follow through with it.
Well, unless you don't want your God-like power to be collectively bargained out of the next CBA. You better believe that will be a main topic of discussion on the table come spring, and nobody knows that more than Goodell. It's quite clear now as time has passed that Roethlisberger was Goodell's last big-time message to the masses that he has all the power. Hopefully that will change this offseason.