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Are The Steelers the New Bengals? Madden's Commentary Gains Traction With Cedric Wilson incident.

Here's a scenario you don't have to imagine: Four current Steelers have been involved in domestic abuse cases, namely Santonio Holmes, Najeh Davenport, Cedrick Wilson and (most recently) James Harrison, who has admitted to striking his girlfriend.

The response has been underwhelming.

TV coverage has been minimal. The newspaper articles that did appear were mostly concerned with the possibility that the NFL might suspend Harrison, last year's team MVP. This is about wins and losses, after all. There's been no comment from the Steelers organization. They want this to go away.

It will.

But the stories are out there, mostly on the down-low.

That was an excerpt from a column written Monday by Mark Madden of the Beaver County Times and Allegheny Times. I read the article at the time and mulled over his argument. I decided not to write about it, but just a few days later, in the wake of Cedric Wilson's latest run-in with the law, it's time to acknowledge that Madden's commentary is relevant.

Madden continues:

Make no mistake, this is epidemic. Steelers fans glory in knocking the Cincinnati Bengals for all their legal peccadilloes, but eight percent of the Steelers' roster has been involved in domestic abuse. Yet few seem to care. There is zero public rancor.

Making the situation more ironic is the club-fueled myth that the Steelers don't employ bad apples, they strive for a better class of people. There is no lower class of person than a domestic abuser.

Well, what can you say. The figures are the figures but he's leaving out a few facts. First of all, Santonio Holmes had the charges dropped against him. Say what you will about the legal system working differently for athletes and celebrities, but the bottom line is our legal system exists for a reason. It's there to punish and reform violators of the law. If there is evidence that suggests that no crime was committed, charges are dropped. There are countless examples of athletes, far more famous than Santonio for that matter, being forced to do the time for their wrongdoings; Santonio was not one of them, and we must presume it was for legitimate reasons.

Najeh Davenport entered into a plead of not-guilty for his incident, so we'll see what comes of that. And we recently discussed James Harrison's incident. As a first-time offense, it's not fair to categorize him as a wreckless citizen and teammate just yet. He succumbed to fit of rage, snapped a woman's cell phone in half, and proceeded to slap her. Unacceptable, but not characteristic of a man who is necessarily wrecklessly violent. I'm not trying to sugar-coat things here. This isn't good, but did anybody read a recent report that roughly 1% of Americans are currently behind bars? An alarming figure to me. People from all walks make mistakes and suffer the legal consequences. There is at least one person in the Steelers family (or at least was in the family) that has a recurring problem, Cedric Wilson. That's it though. Let's take a look at the Bengals arrested since winning the 2005 AFC North Championship:  

Odell Thurman:  Driving while intoxicated.

Frostee Rucker:  Spousal battery.

A.J. Nicholson:  Burglary and grand theft.

Eric Steinbach:  Boating under the influence.

Matthias Askew:  Resisting arrest.

Reggie McNeal:  Resisting arrest.

Deltha O'Neal:  Driving while intoxicated.

Chris Henry:  "unlawful transaction with a minor (three counts), speeding, operating a vehicle under the influence, felony possession of a concealed firearm, possession of marijuana. First arrest was in December 2005" (
(arrested Bengals list provided by

Here we have a laundry list of players that are engaging in behavior that shows no regard for the well-being of the team or their individual futures. I have no idea how women treat guys like Najeh, Santonio, Cedric, and James. It's not as if we haven't heard countless stories of the gold-digging women out there preying on professional athletes. Who knows what kind of psychological games they play with these inherently aggressive men?

I'm rambling here but no matter how 'fanatical' I may be for the Steelers, I can still objectively say that I don't see an organizational problem here like I do with the Bengals. I see a troubled man (Wilson) that was disposed of; I see a young talented kid in Santonio who was cleared of all charges; and I see a guy in Davenport who has shown some judgment issues that was most likely just rented by the Steelers for a year or two.

Before we're ready to call the Steelers the Bengals, let's give Harrison another chance to prove his simple assault was a one-time thing. Let's see if the waters are choppy now that the one true basket-case has been ridded from the family. It may be unfair to label Cedric, but after this, we can at least say fairly that the man is far too easily provoked, and that's being generous. Let's see if Santonio stays committed to being one of the elite WRs in the game. There's trouble brewing at the surface, but with any high-profile entity or organization, even the slightest ripple will get noticed. Let's just hope it remains a ripple.