Starkey: Ward's image takes major hit
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Georgia, TMZ and Steelers stars. What a terrible combination.
Last offseason, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (dis)graced the cover of TMZ's website, sporting a Satan T-shirt during his ill-fated night on the town in Milledgeville.
Saturday morning, it was receiver Hines Ward who grabbed the salacious site's top billing after a traffic stop in DeKalb County, about 90 miles from Milledgeville. Ward wasn't smiling in the photograph.
Who smiles for a mug shot?
The headline over the photo — "Hines Ward Busted for DUI" — might as well have read "Hines Ward's Image in Tatters."
That doesn't mean Ward is guilty, of course, after he was held on $1,300 bond, posted it and was released. It just means that until his guilt or innocence is determined, his reputation will take a major hit at a point when his Q-rating was at an all-time high.
People who didn't know of Ward even after his Super Bowl XL MVP award became familiar with him through his recent "Dancing With the Stars" triumph. He's one of the hottest celebrities in the country — and if he doesn't beat this charge, he will never be looked at the same.
Nor should he.
Of course, I can already hear people writing this off as no big deal, even if Ward is convicted or pleads no contest. That is a common response to athlete DUI arrests. As Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland told 93.7 The Fan earlier this baseball season, after troubled Tigers star Miguel Cabrera was arrested for DUI, "I think most people will understand. It happens to a lot of people on a daily basis."
Yes, and a lot of those people are killing a lot of innocent victims.
Tell the family of one of those victims that DUIs aren't a big deal. About 12,000 people in this country die annually in DUI-related accidents, according to the website drinkinganddriving.org.
Ward, if he was driving under the influence, should have known better. Call a limo. Hire a driver. Use the "Safe Ride Solutions" program, in which NFL players can make a simple call to have somebody drive them home in their car. Or just consider what some of your colleagues have done.
Former St. Louis Rams defensive end Leonard Little was driving drunk when he smashed into a car and killed a woman in 1998. Then-Cleveland Browns receiver Donte Stallworth was driving under the influence when he killed a pedestrian in 2009.
A 2010 study in the San Diego Union-Tribune pegged drunk driving as the NFL's most oft-committed offense. It's a growing problem in Major League Baseball, as well. The Union-Tribune study reported that more than one NFL player per month has been arrested for DUI since 2000.
Here's hoping Ward is found innocent, that his business manager's assertion that Ward was not impaired, is true.
If not, Ward will never be looked at the same.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL coaches weigh in on Polamalu’s legacy
- Steelers notebook: Harrison return complicated by LeBeau, Titans
- Steelers re-sign WR Heyward-Bey to 1-year deal
- Steelers notebook: Team seek ease on West Coast travel
- Tomlin eyes Steelers’ return to defensive success this season
- Tomlin expects Steelers offense to grow
- Steelers notebook: Safety Mitchell could move to replace Polamalu
- Steelers re-sign LB Harrison to 2-year deal