Monday, April 27, 2009
The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is alleged to have staged several dwarf tossing events between 2005 and 2008 in a West Pittsburgh pub he purchased shortly after signing his rookie contract in 2004.
Roethlisberger's name was discovered during a search of documents subpoenaed from ShortDwarf.com, the largest dwarf talent agency in the United States. ShortDwarf had been under investigation for several weeks, suspected of running afoul of federal RICO statutes by illegally transporting dwarfs across state lines.
“We are immensely disappointed that such such a noteworthy figure as Ben Roethlisberger would engage in such a barbaric and dehumanizing activity as dwarf tossing” said Sean Prestin, Vice President of Public Relations for the Little People of America.
Although dwarf tossing is not technically illegal within the state of Pennsylvania, several attempts have been made to curb its popularity, which peaked in the late 1980's, including the very zoning restrictions which led to the search of Roethlisberger's pub late last week.
The search found clear evidence of dwarf related recreation, including a custom three lane alley for bowling nights and a large east wall overlaid with Velcro target boards designed to “catch” dwarfs tossed like darts, according to the Allegheny County Sheriffs department.
When asked to comment about an unconfirmed report that several dwarfs were being housed on site, sleeping in dresser drawers and bathing in dish basins, a spokesman for the department issued a “no comment.”
However, Prestin and the LPA do not doubt the authenticity of the report.
“The kinds of people who participate in this depraved pastime treat little people like props, not human beings.” Prestin even insisted that in some rare cases ill-performing dwarfs had been put down by the event organizers.
“Oh yes. They'll call them all sorts of names... Like 'Shortcake' or 'Tiny' or even 'Ooompa-Loompa.' Sick bastards.”
Telephone messages to Roethlisberger and his agent Ryan Tollner were unreturned. Dan Rooney, longtime owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers offered support to his beleaguered quarterback.
“Ben is the leader of our franchise and has always been a solid person on and off the field. We're confident that when all is said and done he'll be standing tall over these ridiculous accusations.”
Mr. Rooney rejected several opportunities to re-word his support of Roethlisberger.
When reached for comment, NFL spokesman Brandon Teabow said, “Dwarf tossing? Is that even illegal? You know, after the whole dogfighting thing it doesn't really seem like that big a deal... What? Oh... No! I wasn't making a joke! Stop laughing... Hey, don't write that down!”
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
There's this dream I have. I'm standing at the edge of a cliff, peering into a bottomless pit. There's a rusty bucket sitting at my feet. I carefully kneel down and grasp the wiry steel handle. It's a very heavy bucket. Heavier than it should, or even could be. I don't want to look at what's in the bucket. I rise back up, holding the bucket with two hands. I pause, feeling a cold breeze blow in my face. It's a strong breeze, and uncomfortably cool, but it's blowing me away from the chasm. Away from oblivion. I'm grateful to the breeze.
My arms are beginning to suffer under the obscene burden of the bucket. The wire handle is digging into the flesh of my palms and my fingers are going white from deprivation. How long have I been holding this bucket? Why won't I look inside? Why... Why is it so bloody heavy?
My groaning arms and screaming fingers are joined by my snarling back. The chorus is sublime. They sing of pain and desperation, but my mind picks up only a whisper, and the bucket remains in my grasp.
The pain is sharpening my recall. I've been standing at the pit for a very long time. I've been carrying the bucket even longer. It's never felt quite so heavy though. How did it get so heavy? I'm carrying it... It's my bucket. What did I put in there? And why don't I want to look?
My legs are shaking now. A rickety murmur joins the torture symphony. Clarity is my reward. Every time I try to think about what's in the bucket my eyes are drawn to the bottomless fissure before me... I've stood on the precipice of this chasm for as long as I can remember. I don't stand as close as I used to and I sometimes wonder why I come here at all anymore.
My feet are leaden. The weight of my cargo is driving me to shift from one foot to the other. A thumping baseline of dull discomfort. The orchestra ascends. The bucket overflows.
The bucket holds pieces of me. A broken arm when I was seven. A broken heart when I was seventeen. One eye spying only the future, another only the past. Each forever blind to the present. Ears that hear only criticism... A heart that fears.
I tip the bucket over the bottomless pit. The pieces tumble out and into the nothing. It takes a while. The symphony plays out to a diminuendo.
For the first time that I can remember I feel like I can go somewhere else. Anywhere else. My arms, my hands, my back, my legs, my feet... they can sing another song.
I decide to hang on to that rusty old bucket too. You never know when you'll discover something nice and want to bring it along with you.