Word emerged late Friday afternoon that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had settled the sexual assault lawsuit filed against him in July 2009 in Nevada. It’s the ideal time each week for otherwise significant developments to go largely unnoticed.
Given the events of the intervening weekend, including two epic conference title games and the passing of legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno, the Roethlisberger settlement quickly has been forgotten.
But we’ve got some news. Though no one is saying anything publicly about whether and to what extent money changed hands, a league source tells PFT that the alleged victim received “less than a game check.”
Based on Roethlisberger’s 2011 salary of $6 million, a game check costs $352,941.17. Based on his 2012 salary of $11.6 million, a game check amounts to $685,352.94.
In contrast, Roethlisberger lost $1.894 million via his four-game suspension in 2010 following the allegations of sexual assault in Georgia, which resulted in no prosecution.
Relative to Roethlisberger’s earnings, a settlement in the mid-six-figure range won’t hurt very much, and it could ultimately be even less than what it would have cost to fully litigate the case through trial, especially if Roethlisberger wanted a scorched-earth Cadillac defense.
While Roethlisberger surely admitted to no wrongdoing as part of the settlement, plenty of people will presume that he wouldn’t have paid money if he was innocent. The reality, however, is that the passage of time likely allowed him to view it dispassionately as a business proposition, and to make a smart decision independent of whether he believes he would have been vindicated after spending as much or more on legal fees, with the ever-present possibility that he’d lose at trial and pay a lot more.