Nike Stands by Roethlisberger

Last summer, I saw some news that I knew would rock my household – Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was accused by Andrea McNulty, a hostess at a Lake Tahoe Harrah’s, of sexual assault.  My father, a die-hard Steelers fan, took the news better than I expected.  But thousands of Steelers fans did not – and the defamation of McNulty’s character began almost immediately.  There appeared to be very few consequences for Roethlisberger, and discussion of the case mostly disappeared.

That is, until Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault for the second time in early March, by a college student who alleged that he assaulted her in a Georgia nightclub.  Charges were not filed in this case, but Roethlisberger was given a 6-game suspension and was ordered to undergo a “comprehensive behavioral evaluation by professionals.”

So who’s still standing by Roethlisberger, if not the NFL?  Even Roethlisberger’s hometown newspaper seems shaken, and his local beef jerky company has dropped their sponsorship (and believe me, I know first-hand how rabid Steelers fans can be).  But Nike, one of the most important sports endorsement companies, remains loyal.  And although admittedly no charges have been filed, you have to ask: why?  Reading the latest accusations detailing Roethlisberger’s alleged conduct in Georgia is a sickening experience.  As Timothy Egan writes for the NYT‘s “Opinionator” blog,

“If this guy didn’t have a pair of Super Bowl Rings and a $102 million contract to entertain us on Sundays, most people would see him for what he is: a thug with a predatory sense of entitlement.”

But Nike seems to have a history of standing by “troubled” athletes – Kobe Bryant, for example, during allegations of rape (these were later dropped) and Tiger Woods.  The only person who seems to be too problematic for Nike is Michael Vick, who admitted to running a felony dog-fighting ring and was promptly dropped by his sponsor.  “We consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and unacceptable,” the company explained.

Roethlisberger has denied both allegations and no criminal charges have been filed in either case.  But one does have to question the mentality that would lead Nike to continue to support someone who has a serious history of sexual assault accusations, and it appears that Nike assumes that Roethlisberger will escape from this unscathed.  Is that enough of a reason to continue to sponsor Roethlisberger?  What does it say about what matters to the company’s image?

And what does it say about how corporate America deals with sexual assault?  And what message is sent when someone like Roethlisberger appears with Nike’s logo?  Tiger Woods doesn’t seem to be hurting Nike’s sales – so why should Roethlisberger?  The takeaway is clear: cruelty to animals is unacceptable.  But assaulting women?  That seems to be more of a gray area.

This whole situation is especially ironic because, as fellow Care2 blogger Jaime-Alexis pointed out to me, the Nike Foundation created The Girl Effect, dedicated to promoting the wellbeing of girls in developing countries.  Strange that Nike seems to care so little about the well-being of young women in the U.S.

If you’d like to tell the company what you think of their continued sponsorship of Roethlisberger, Nike’s contact information is here.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.


lady g.
lady g.7 years ago


Tekla Drakfrende
Tekla Drakfrende7 years ago

we have to be careful who we appoint to be a hero in the society....

Holley Cupp
Holley Cupp7 years ago

Nike seems to always be doing wrong.

Lyn Van Vuuren
Lyn V7 years ago

I'm a woman and unfortunately far too many women abuse the "rape" laws. I believe its a sad day for women who are raped, but leave the men alone until they are proven guilty.

Mary C.
Mary C7 years ago

This statement in the article says it all......"If this guy didn't have a pair of Super Bowl Rings and a $102 million contract to entertain us on Sundays, most people would see him for what he is: a thug with a predatory sense of entitlement."

Jan C.
j C7 years ago

I gave up Nike some time ago when they were found guilty of their abusive sweatshops overseas. If there was any gray area or forgetfulness on my part to tempt me to buy their products since then, they blew it with Tiger Woods. I will not buy anything with Nike's name on it. Never ever!

The commentors' remarks about it being all about big money, tacit approvals, etc are soooo true. Sadly, though, it also reflects Americans' willingness to overlook low standards of the treatment of humans.

Why aren't the fans exploding over these situations? Why don't they demand better character in the people they admire and cheer for? Is this how the typical fan treats his wife/girlfriend? Or how she is treated by her husband/boyfriend?

What a sad state our society is in! Just when you think people of high standards and expectations, they cop out on you and take the easy street of only caring about themselves (if even that!)

.7 years ago


Aaron Taylor
Aaron Taylor7 years ago

And for the people saying "we don't know if he's guilty" ->

We do know -
Inside a locked bathroom he had sex with her. She was wasted. Her friends were concerned for her well being a were barred by his security guards form getting to her. She immediately walked out of the club and found a police officer outside, and was taken to be examined by a doctor who found dna and cuts.

But I guess we shouldn't judge him because a court never got to.....

Sorry but I think he straight up rapped her and got away with it.

Aaron Taylor
Aaron Taylor7 years ago

Well, though the Georgia D.A. did not prosecute him, there was enough information to (imop). It doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to see that he is guilty (imop). People get away with rape, and it's a sad reflection of the social pathology we continue to perpetuate.

Shame on Nike, and shame on the Georgia D.A. who had medical evidence that should have put this asshole in the courts.

Kathy Javens
Kathy Javens7 years ago

it has been said, what`s in a name? apparently alot when you can get away with assulting women with, what amounts to him to be a slap on the wrist. he should be punished just like the average joe out there in the street.