Are the Pittsburgh Steelers Hypocrites?

Santonio Holmes (10) and Ben Roethlisberger (7) celebrate the Steelers defeating the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII, Feb. 1, 2009, in Tampa, Fla.

Santonio Holmes (10) and Ben Roethlisberger (7) celebrate the Steelers defeating the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII, Feb. 1, 2009, in Tampa, Fla.

On Sunday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers cut ties with 2009 Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes, trading him to the New York Jets for a draft pick.

Holmes, arguably the team's best receiver, has had a few brushes with the law - marijuana possession, a domestic violence incident, and most recently being accused of hurling a drink at a woman in a Florida night club. (Holmes denies it).

Holmes was suspended Monday without pay by the NFL for the first four regular-season games for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Meanwhile, the face of the Steelers franchise, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, has been accused not once - but twice - of sexual assault. (He says he did nothing wrong).

In 2006, he defied his coach's orders and rode his motorcycle without a helmet - suffering a concussion, broken jaw and other injuries after a crash.

Yet, Big Ben remains on the roster.

Both players face lawsuits but neither has been charged.

Is it about position? Roethlisberger is one of just a few elite quarterbacks in the NFL; Holmes is a talented receiver but not regarded as one of the best at his position.

Still, Holmes enjoyed career highs last year with 79 catches for 1,248 yards and five touchdowns.

Is race a factor, as some have suggested? Holmes, who is black, was cut loose after his transgressions. In the case of Roethlisberger, who is white, the team seems to look the other way.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

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