In a compelling and comprehensive interview on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning, lawyer David Cornwell was asked to identify the specific wrongdoing in which his client, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, engaged.
In a word (actually, two), Cornwell described it as “poor judgment.” Though he seemed to take issue with Commissioner Roger Goodell’s assessment that Roethlisberger “contributed to the irresponsible consumption of alcohol by purchasing (or facilitating the purchase of) alcoholic beverages for underage college students,” Cornwell acknowledged that Roethlisberger’s error was placing himself in a situation where excessive alcohol was being consumed, regardless of whether he was buying it or furnishing it to persons who were legally too young to be drinking.
Regarding the rampant trade rumors and reports, Cornwell said that Roethlisberger wants to stay in Pittsburgh. Cornwell also believes that Roethlisberger will not be traded.
Cornwell said that both he and Roethlisberger were “disappointed” by the length of the suspension, and Cornwell said that Roethlisberger views the six-game conditional suspension as a four-game suspension, since he fully intends to overcomply with the requirements for a reduction. Cornwell added that it could have been worse; over the weekend, Goodell told Cornwell that an “indefinite” suspension was possible.
Cornwell also shared an intriguing nugget. He said that, when he and Goodell were 28, they worked together at the league office. And Cornwell explained that they had the benefit of maturing into men without the glare that comes with being an NFL quarterback.
We’ve got two points to make in response. First, most NFL players are in their 20s and maturing under the glare of a very bright spotlight. And most of them are not accused of doing anything wrong, ever. Second, we have a hard time believing that Cornwell or Goodell ever did anything closely resembling the allegations made against Roethlisberger, including walking around like Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg, sans boxes.
Finally, we were a bit troubled by Cornwell’s suggestion that the media’s portrayal of the allegations in Georgia has been “somewhat one-sided.” It has been “somewhat one-sided” because Ben has chosen to hide behind the Fifth Amendment, in order to secure his liberty. While he’s got every right to do that, Cornwell has no right to complain about media portrayal’s being one-sided when Roethlisberger refuses to share his side of the story.