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April 12, 2010 1:40 PM

Steelers Send a Warning to Big Ben

roethlisberger412.jpgThe Steelers' trade of top receiver and former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes to the Jets for a fifth round draft pick shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. It's a move in line with the franchise's long commitment to quality--both on and off the field. The Rooneys have a history of cutting ties with troubled players (for example, Plaxico Burress and Cedric Wilson), and Holmes, facing a four-game suspension for violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy and other off-field issues, certainly qualifies as troubled. This emphasis on character helps the Steelers not only in the PR world but also on the field (6 Super Bowls titles speak for themselves).

Of course, one can very easily argue that if they were truly principled they would have already sent Ben Roethlisberger packing. And I wouldn't rule that out at some point. Though he dodged sexual assault charges again today, this trade is a warning to Ben that if he doesn't embrace his role as the leader and representative of one of the most storied franchises in sports, he's not going to be worth much more than a throw-away draft pick either.

Unlike many other franchises, the Steelers have faith in their system and know they will continue to win over the long-term with or without Santonio Holmes or Ben Roethlisberger. They have the leverage, and they have put Ben on notice.

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