One sexual assault allegation can be written off as a fluke crazy lady. But two? Do two make for a coincidence? A pattern? I'm asking, because I honestly don't know.
At this stage, I'll resist the urge to make any kind of grandiose moral proclamation, but instead state a fact: Ben Roethlisberger has been branded for life.
Guilt or innocence doesn't matter. Think of the Duke lacrosse team. By now the world knows that they were completely innocent of any of the awful things they were charged with. But go back a second. When I said "think of the Duke lacrosse team," what was the first thing your mind went to?
Kobe Bryant. Who knows what happened there? Charges were dropped, and Bryant gave the woman some money to settle a civil suit. But from opposing fan's taunts to throwaway jokes made everywhere, including this site, you can't talk about Kobe without Eagle, Colorado being in the back of your head.
Now, let's consider Ben Roethlisberger, and how the world viewed him a day ago. Goofy looking guy with a knack for taking embarrassing photos. Likes to ride motorcycles without a helmet. Talented QB who led his team to a Super Bowl win as a sophomore, then again three years later.
Yes, there were the allegations in Lake Tahoe, but with every new report savaging the credibility of his accuser, the public was inclined to write her off. No one thought of Roethlisberger and thought "rapist."
Well, now we've got number two. And I suspect we'll find out a lot more about this case in the next few hours and days, though I haven't a clue which way it will go. Doesn't matter. It will be impossible to talk Big Ben without his sexual assault accusations entering the conversation.
That, my friends, is what we call a stigma.
Well, this down week went out with a bang, didn't it? Stev D will have his hands full with fallout tomorrow, and Spintern David and I will be your hosts on Sunday. Thank you for your continued support of Deadspin.