It appears Steelers rookie nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu issued the first of what will no doubt be several apologies Monday, as he was at the facility preparing for the Steelers' Week 7 game at Cincinnati.
Odds would have been low for Ta'amu dressing for the game anyway, but his arrest on several counts ranging from drunken driving to resisting arrest will likely have him stay on the healthy scratch list for a while.
The team has not officially commented on the situation yet, but it's not like much needs to be said right now. They won't rush to judgement, and it's likely they'll be in consult with the league over the appropriate punishment.
Tribune-Review reporter Mark Kaboly spoke to a few players, gathering opinions, and free safety Ryan Clark's words stood out the strongest to me:
"You don't ‘Amen' this as in it is OK to do, but you don't throw him away," Clark said. "You don't exile him from the team, you don't stop talking to him, you don't stop being his friend because if you are family, you don't do that. I want to help him through this and help him be part of the Pittsburgh Steelers and, if that's possible, when he's back, he is going to be the same brother before this happened."
I can't help but see this any differently than that. People make mistakes, and people should be held accountable for those mistakes. But they aren't lifetime sentences either.
Perhaps the Steelers are unique in the NFL landscape, insomuch the history of the franchise is rooted so deeply into the community, an implied sense of civic leadership is created. Ta'amu is a young kid who made a mistake. There's little doubt the team won't be immediately behind the courts (and one step in front of the NFL) in terms of the punishment, but is his punishment what's important here?
The Steelers have a responsibility within the community, and as such, the right thing for them to do is to keep him there, and personally see to it that Ta'amu - assuming his apology is sincere - uses his position on the team to speak at local schools and troubled youth in regards to the poor decision he made, and to help educate the community about the dangers of alcohol, the risks of driving while impaired in any way and substance abuse.
This seems far more of an appropriate action as opposed to releasing him, calling security to haul him and his stuff out and joining the rest of the masses on their soap boxes, patting themselves on the back for "sending a message that we won't tolerate this kind of thing."
What difference does it make if the Steelers "tolerate" it? They cannot directly prevent it. It's the choice of everyone to do the safe thing and get a ride. Cutting a 22-year-old kid for making a insanely poor decision only temporarily rids them of a problem. With their name, and Ta'amu's popularity in the city, they can potentially influence thousands of kids into learning how to use better judgement.
Maybe it's just my opinion, but I'd much rather see them do that. And if he doesn't feel like doing that, then cut his butt and send him packing. Make it a coachable moment for thousands of other people, though.