This past summer, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell found himself facing a situation every authority figure dreads. His reputation hinged on how he handled a greasy-haired young man sitting in front of him, brandishing a smirk. The lug in question was Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, who had been accused of rape for the second time in a year, in this instance by a 20-year-old college student in Georgia. Arming himself for the conversation, Goodell had talked to two dozen other players, including other Steelers.
For decades, superstitious sports fans have lived in fear of their favorite athletes and teams making the Sports Illustrated cover.
Rasheed Wallace sparked some controversy a couple years back when he pooh-poohed the Detroit Pistons' visit to the White House to receive congratulations from President Bush for winning the NBA championship as "just something we have to do." Still, Rasheed--despite his personal disdain for Bush--did go to the ceremony.