We need to get over ourselves. The NFL administration doesn't care about us. Ok… maybe that's overly harsh, but the NFL administration doesn't cater to us. They are a business, and they want to maximize profit. We, the serious football fans, will continue to supply the NFL with money regardless of whether we agree with their decisions because we like the product so much. I don't think that any serious Steelers fan, or any other football fan, is going to stop watching football, stop going to games, or stop buying NFL merchandise because of any NFL administrative decision, including suspending one player.
The NFL cares far more about what the casual fan thinks and does. The fan that might not tune into the game on Sunday if he/she thinks there's either something better on TV or something else to do. The fan who, if there is a scandal involving a player, won't buy a jersey at all, rather than just buy one with a different number on it. The NFL needs to cater to these fans more than to us, because this is where their revenue can grow or shrink. If they put out a product that is broadly appealing (read: wholesome), then they'll win more of these fans and their money. If the product is not appealing (read: scandalous) they will lose these fans and their money. It's nothing personal to us, just business.
And that's what the NFL is, a business. We all know that. We all complain about how money drives the league. But, since we are serious fans, we don't let that drive us away from the product that keeps getting put out.
As in any business, the boss has the right to discipline his/her employees as is seen fit. You can get promoted or demoted for any variety of reasons. Same with getting suspended or fired.
And these reasons don't have to be criminal.
Hell, you can get fired for just pissing off your boss (I know I have). Just, you usually don't have millions of friends on your side to complain to your boss if that's the case. And you always, ALWAYS, you get disciplined if you make your company lose money. And the NFL is, and always has been, no different.
Criminal or not, Ben's behavior has cost both the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers money. He has driven the casual fan, and the money that they bring with them, away by tarnishing the NFL and the Steelers' image. Court of law doesn't matter here, it's the court of public opinion. As an employee, he is subject to whatever punishment his employer sees fit for that transgression.
We serious fans might not like it. We might cry "but he's innocent in the eyes of the law." That doesn't mean jack squat. And it's because we'll keep buying what the NFL is putting out regardless. Personally, I have no problem with this. He cost his employers a lot of money, he's getting reprimanded. Business is business. You piss off the boss, you're gonna get punished.
Sorry if you're sick of reading more about all this crap, or if this is just restating the obvious. But, damn, some people on this board really need to get over themselves.