Richard Seymour likely earned a lot of new fans when he punched Ben Roethlisberger in the face on Sunday. He also could have hurt his team’s chances at making the playoffs.
Believers in karma everywhere had to at least smirk at the footage of Roethlisberger getting knocked on his back by Seymour midway through the Steelers’ 35-3 rout of the Raiders Sunday. After all, if Big Ben’s behavior has been even half as atrocious as various people have described it to be, it’s easy to argue that he’s been in need of a slap upside the head for quite some time.
But until we know what Roethlisberger said to Seymour to incur his wrath, the punch can hardly be seen as a nod towards chivalry or justice. Seymour has a history of letting his emotions get the best of him – he was previously ejected for punching Browns running back Jerome Harrison earlier this season. And while Big Ben isn't the most popular guy around the league anymore, the Steelers’ score likely had far more to do with Seymour’s frustration than did the quarterback’s off-field issues.
Plus, if Seymour has such a problem with offensive off-field behavior, how does he play for Raiders coach Tom Cable – a man who has been accused of physical violence against women several times in his life. What’s he going to do next time he plays against Michael Vick or former teammate Donte Stallworth – players who have been convicted of crimes by a judge and jury, and not just in the court of public opinion.
This was far from a heroic act from Seymour – it was a foolish one.
Patriots fans have plenty of reason to rejoice over what may be New England’s favorite punch since Jason Varitek took on Alex Rodriguez in 2004. For starters, it’s just plain easy to dislike Roethlisberger – especially in comparison to the squeaky-clean Tom Brady, who has long been a media darling and has evaded any semblance of trouble during his 11-year career.
Secondly, the Patriots and Steelers have arguably been the NFL’s best two teams over the past decade, and have thus developed a mini-rivalry. After destroying the Steelers in Week 10, what could be better than watching Seymour – a former Patriot – continue to lay a beating on Pittsburgh’s star quarterback?
Plus, if Seymour does miss any time, the Raiders are more likely to lose. That also helps the Pats, who hold the rights to Oakland’s first round pick in the 2011 draft.
But pleasing Patriot fans is no longer in Seymour’s job description, and he likely dealt his new team a major blow by decking Roethlisberger. Given how dedicated NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been to protecting quarterbacks and upholding the league’s image, he likely has no choice but to suspend Seymour for at least one week. Seymour is one of the Raiders’ best players, and losing his presence for any significant period of time could really hurt a young team locked in a close playoff race.
It would be nice to believe that Seymour was taking a stand for what’s right by knocking Roethlisberger on his butt, but in reality, he just let his emotions get the best of him.
Big Ben may not deserve anyone’s sympathy, but Seymour doesn’t deserve applause either.