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Vast majority of fans want Roethlisberger disciplined or traded

| Friday, April 23, 2010

More than eight of 10 Pittsburgh Steelers fans agree that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should have been disciplined or should be traded, according to a Tribune-Review poll.

In the survey taken Tuesday and Wednesday, before National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Roethlisberger's six-game suspension, 61 percent of those who called themselves Steelers fans said he should be fined or suspended, and 23 percent said they want a trade.

Only 9 percent favored no disciplinary action. The rest were undecided or refused to answer.

"I guess I look at this as, Pittsburgh fans are like a parent who has to deal with a son or daughter that did something bad," said Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling & Research, which conducted the telephone survey. "I mean, the tough love has to kick in at some point. They don't want to kick them out of the house, but they need to be reprimanded."

Goodell took the action after Georgia prosecutors declined to charge Roethlisberger with sexually assaulting a 20-year-old female student last month in a Milledgeville bar. Roethlisberger is fighting a lawsuit filed last summer by a Lake Tahoe hotel worker who claims the quarterback raped her. He has denied any wrongdoing.

The Trib survey of 652 Western Pennsylvanians has a margin of error of 3.84 percentage points.

The survey results were mostly similar along gender lines, with 61 percent of the women and 59 percent of the men favoring disciplinary action, and 24 percent of the men and 20 percent of the women endorsing a trade.

However, 12 percent of men favored no disciplinary action, compared with 5 percent of women.

Younger fans preferred a trade more than older fans. Among women in the 18-29 age group, 38 percent want the Steelers to go with another quarterback. No other female age group reported higher than 25 percent. The 28 percent of men ages 18-29 supporting a trade was higher than any other age group.

"Moral values, integrity," said Cynthia Lichius, 51, of Turtle Creek, explaining why she wanted the Steelers to sack Roethlisberger. "This is a national news thing, and it happened to Pittsburgh, and our guy did it."

Lichius said the "multiple accusations" against Roethlisberger swung her decision.

"One time, it's like, 'OK, the girl could have exaggerated,' but more than once it (might be) an accusation based on truth. He thinks he's a big guy and he can get away with what he wants."

Lichius termed the suspension as "pretty fair" and said she hopes Roethlisberger "straightens out and realizes he's not the king."

Filomena Andreani, 74, of Coal Center was one of the few women who said she was undecided. But she agrees with the suspension -- as long as it's four games and not six.

Goodell said he would reduce Roethlisberger's suspension by two games if he complies with recommendations from medical experts and stays out of trouble.

"I think it's significant enough," she said. "When I heard about it, I thought six games was a little too much. He wasn't indicted. I didn't approve of the way he behaved, but because there was no legal action, I was kind of undecided about what kind of suspension he should get."

Arnold Mathe said he would be happy if Roethlisberger left town.

"I never liked him from the beginning," said Mathe, 76, of West Mifflin. "He's arrogant. He's a show-off. I guess I never took to him."

But Dave Allenbaugh of Ross believes no action against Roethlisberger is warranted.

"I don't think he should be punished," said Allenbaugh, 63. "He's accused of doing things. He hasn't been arrested or cited for anything.

"I think they're pretty harsh on what they did to him. If the man needs some psychological help or something, I can understand. But he's not guilty of anything."

Additional Information:

How poll was done

The survey was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday with 652 randomly selected residents of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties who are 18 and older. Allegheny County residents comprised 50 percent of the survey.

The margin of error for a sample this size is 3.84 percentage points.

Residents were asked if they were aware, unaware or undecided concerning sexual assault charges made against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger even though no criminal charges will be filed.

They were asked, in light of no criminal charges, what they believed should be the proper course of action regarding his future. The choices were: suspend/fine; trade; no disciplinary action; undecided; or refuse to answer.

Residents were asked if they consider themselves to be Steelers fans, and asked their gender and ages.

Susquehanna Polling and Research used staff members and automated calls, and each call lasted approximately two minutes.

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