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    Default Steelers not alone in applying double standard

    Steelers are not alone in applying double standard to misbehaving players

    Mike Florio

    Friday, May. 28, 2010 - 11:01 a.m. ET

    The off-field problems involving multiple members of the Pittsburgh Steelers created the impression that a double standard applies in the city of Three Rivers. Lower-level players get the boot, and those deemed indispensable get a pass.

    Would the Texans have handled Brian Cushing differently if he wasn't key to their defense?

    It happened most notably in 2008, when linebacker James Harrison and receiver Cedrick Wilson were accused of domestic violence in the same general time frame. Harrison remains a key fixture on the team; Wilson was dumped not long after his arrest.

    The Steelers have been vague regarding whether their sliding scale has yielded to a one-strike arrangement in the wake of the unfortunate situations involving quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and former receiver Santonio Holmes. The problem with zero tolerance is that it must be enforced and, eventually, a great player will be cut.

    And some other team would then pounce on him.

    The Steelers aren't the only franchise that treats different players differently. They all do it, to a certain extent. Former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson made no bones about it. In Boys Will Be Boys, Jeff Pearlman chronicles Johnson's inconsistencies, explaining that some players "would be treated with greater dignity than others -- and if you didn't like it, you could find another line of work." Pearlman writes that, when first-round cornerback Kevin Smith and street free agent Michael James snuck out of camp, Smith got lectured and James got cut.

    More recently, the San Diego Chargers have provided a glaring example of applying different rules for different players with receiver Vincent Jackson and safety Kevin Ellison. Jackson, who has twice pleaded guilty to DUI charges, will be going nowhere else, sober or otherwise. Ellison, who has been arrested for possession of 100 Vicodin pills, has been told to stay away from offseason workouts, a precursor to his likely release.

    Though the substance abuse policy insulates Jackson against discipline from the team, that same policy protects Ellison, too. And the Chargers don't seem to care.

    In other cities, there are no recent dichotomies like Kevin Smith and Michael James, James Harrison and Cedrick Wilson, Vincent Jackson and Kevin Ellison. But what would the Texans be doing about linebacker Brian Cushing's suspension for violating the steroids policy if he weren't part of the nucleus of the team's defense? In 2008, long snapper Bryan Pittman missed the final four games after breaking the same rules. And he wasn't re-signed. (The Texans eventually brought him back late in the 2009 season, perhaps realizing that the position isn't as fungible as it looks.)

    In Washington, receiver Santana Moss has been entangled in the Dr. Anthony Galea HGH investigation. If Moss weren't regarded as an important member of an otherwise so-so receiving corps, the Redskins might be doing something far different than accepting his version of the events and vowing to stand by him.

    And in Miami, where V.P. of football operations Bill Parcells has said he wants no "thugs and hoodlums," plenty of guys are acting like "thugs and hoodlums," including Ronnie Brown, Will Allen, Phillip Merling and Tony McDaniel. To date, the Dolphins have been consistent in their treatment of the misbehaving players -- none of them has been disciplined.

    In Seattle, a big-name player's big-money salary is having the opposite effect. Linebacker Leroy Hill, who was arrested for domestic violence only days after being placed on probation for marijuana possession, has been told to stay home in lieu of showing up for offseason practices.

    In Hill's case, his contract is hurting him more than a perceived lack of skill. He's due to receive a guaranteed base salary of $6 million in 2010, and if the league suspends him the guarantee voids if they cut him.

    Every team at every level of every sport looks at these situations on a case-by-case basis. And it's not because they want to be fair and consistent with every employee; it's because they understand that it's important to know when and where and how to be inconsistent.
    Last edited by hawaiiansteeler; May-28-2010 at 04:42 PM.

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