Kick him to the curb
It's becoming almost commonplace, but Steelers management is being given another chance to show fans whether the team has any serious standards for player behavior off the field. The person in the unwanted spotlight this time is kicker Jeff Reed, who appears to have transformed over the past few years from humble free-agent signee to out-of-control celebrity party animal. For those who missed it, Reed, who just recently pleaded guilty to charges stemming for his assault on a paper towel dispenser at a Westmoreland County Sheetz store, had a run-in with police on the North Side just hours after Sunday's victory over the Browns. Police tell it like this: Officers were responding to an unrelated call when they spotted Reed's teammate Matt Spaeth peeing in a parking lot. As police were taking information from Spaeth in order to cite him for watering the lot, Reed exited a vehicle and confronted the officers, putting up his fists and, according to a police affidavit, getting into a "fighter's stance." Perhaps Reed was still basking in the afterglow of his knockout victory over the paper towel dispenser, but he soon found out that police will fight back. He ended up being taken to the ground and handcuffed. His agent, of course, claims Reed was attacked by the cops. Don Henderson told the Post-Gazette that Reed got out of the car "to help." Right. Now the kicker faces charges of assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. Are the Steelers OK with that? The team has shown a willingness to cut players who become unwelcome distractions - Bam Morris and Najeh Davenport come to mind - but that applies only if the player can be easily replaced. By essentially ignoring the transgressions of star players such as Santonio Holmes and James Harrison, the team has made it clear that there is one standard for so-so players and another for stars. One can understand if classy Mr. Spaeth's incident is overlooked, even though most folks who are approaching their 26th birthday have gained the maturity to rely exclusively on indoor plumbing. But Reed's case is another matter entirely. If what police say is true, that makes him a repeat offender, and also stupid as a box of rocks. And when someone starts wrestling with cops, they need to go. Of course, there will be some, perhaps many, Steelers fans who will dismiss this as nothing more than boys being boys. Of course, some of those fans would stand by their "Stillers" in the face of any accusation short of rape and murder. And a few, no doubt, would say the rape victim must've been asking for it and the murder victim provoked the dear Steeler involved in the homicide. My guess is that the Steelers will fall back on the old "let the case take its course through the criminal justice system" position, rather than switch kickers in midseason. Reed's contract is up this year, so he's probably on his way out the door, but if the Steelers had any integrity and moral standards, he'd be booted today.