SBD/Issue 127/Franchises

Rooney's Comments Regarding Domestic Abuse Draw Criticism

Rooney Draws Criticism For
Comments Regarding Abuse
Steelers Chair Dan Rooney last week released WR Cedrick Wilson after he was charged in a domestic dispute, but earlier this month did not discipline LB James Harrison for a similar incident, saying that the "cases were different," according to Bouchette & Fuoco of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Rooney: "What [Harrison] was doing and how the incident occurred, what he was trying to do was really well worth it. He was doing something that was good, wanted to take his son to get baptized where he lived and things like that. [Harrison's girlfriend] said she didn't want to do it." After Rooney was criticizaed by the Women's Center and Shelter of Pittsburgh as a result of his comments,  he said in a statement, "To clarify the comments made earlier regarding the conduct of our players, in no way do we condone domestic violence of any kind. Each incident must be considered on a case-by-case basis" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 3/21).

DOUBLE STANDARD? ESPN.com's Matt Mosley wrote Rooney's attempt to "explain that Harrison's heart was in the right place ... had to be one of the worst PR moments in club history." Perhaps the club's PR staff was "taking a long Easter weekend, but someone needed to talk Rooney ... off the ledge. Whether or not he meant to, Rooney sounded as if he was justifying domestic abuse in certain situations" (ESPN.com, 3/21). In Pittsburgh, John Steigerwald wrote Rooney's explanation "didn't pass the laugh test." Steigerwald: "It's obvious the Steelers showed more tolerance for Harrison because he's a more valuable player" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 3/24). A PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE editorial stated Rooney "made the right call on [Wilson], but it's hard to understand why he made a different one on" Harrison." Rooney "knows more details about his players' situations than does the public. But the explanation he gave for what looks like a double standard ... was unsatisfying. If there's more to it, Steelers fans need to hear it" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 3/22).

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