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Santonio Traded, Race Card Remains In Deck

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Santonio Holmes / Getty ImagesI was actually fooled for a while on the byline. But no, it's not provocative columnist and ex-ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith, but rather CBS News blogger Stephen W. Smith who is bringing up racial politics within the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.

Smith harmlessly and naively wonders if the Steelers traded troubled wide receiver Santonio Holmes because of his skin color, and gave the pasty farm boy Ben Roethlisberger get a free pass. Despite the party photos, the motorcycle accident, and the multiple sexual assault allegations, Big Ben remains on the team. You could also wonder if favorites are being played because one's the quarterback and the other's a wide receiver, who is more replaceable. But let's keep this fun and stick to race!

Smith also omits kicker Jeff Reed's personal issues with alcohol and paper towel dispensers, as this would strengthen his argument. And Smith really needs all the help he can get with his query, because he's still off base.

It should be noted that if any team is going to be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to race, it oughta be the Steelers. Their ownership was the namesake for the "Rooney Rule" which gave potential minority coaches a better chance at getting head positions. They hired Mike Tomlin, who is black, out of nowhere when it seemed they were going to promote one of their capable white coordinators. In the 1970s they were one of the first teams to start a black quarterback, Joe Gilliam Jr. They also stuck with Kordell Stewart during the '90s when other teams might've given up on him quicker. (Oddly enough, they had a shorter leash with Tommy Maddox.)

Holmes wasn't necessarily sent shipping because he was a bad boy. This could've been an ancillary reason, but let's look at this football story from a football perspective, shall we?

Holmes will be suspended for the first four games of the season because he violated the NFL's drug policy. And since he's in the final year of his contract (and it didn't look like they were very close to re-signing him). Roethlisberger had 12 games left to throw at him. That amount of playing time was worth a fifth-round draft pick to the Jets, who are trying to strike while their cannon is loaded with a bazillion new talented players.

Or maybe he was traded because he was black. Could be either one.

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