Alameda Ta'amu alleged DUI incident was far worse than Frank Coonelly's

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Frank Coonelly's drunk-driving incident was dangerous, but Alameda Ta'amu's sounds like it was far, far worse.

Mark Kaboly, in what appears to be an attempt to argue that the Steelers were correct not to cut rookie nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu after his drunk-driving arrest this weekend, mentions Pirates president Frank Coonelly, who was arrested for DUI last winter.

Now what was the punishment the Pirates handed out to Frank Coonelly? I can't recall.

Just to be clear here, DUI is always bad. Driving under the influence is dangerous. It was dangerous when Coonelly did it, and it sounds like it was clearly dangerous when Ta'amu allegedly did it. But beyond that, what Coonelly did and what Ta'amu did aren't especially similar.

Here's the original report on the Coonelly arrest. Coonelly had no known record of drunk driving. He was arrested when he made a wrong turn, noticed he made a mistake, and did a U-turn. As far as anyone knows, that's it. He was charged with two misdemeanors and two summary offenses. The Pirates indicated they would not discipline him, and maybe they should have. But Coonelly vanished from the media after the arrest. He was clearly the public face of the team before that, and he isn't now. That might have been his decision, but it also might have come from higher up.

In contrast, Ta'amu's drunk-driving arrest last weekend was not his first, having already been charged with drunk driving in 2009. And what he allegedly did this time was so much worse than anything that's been connected to Coonelly. Ta'amu was the subject of a police chase. He hit five parked cars, injured two people, ran a red light, drove on the wrong side of the street for seven blocks, nearly ran down an officer, and only avoided being shot due to the number of people out and about. Ta'amu also ran away from the police and changed shirts to try to fool them. For all that, he was charged with three felonies, in addition to numerous misdemeanor counts and summary offenses.

This clearly sounds like an extremely wild and ugly situation, not a garden-variety DUI. What Coonelly did was dangerous. But what Ta'amu allegedly did was far worse, so much so that it belongs in a different category. One could argue that the Pirates should have officially punished Coonelly. But that has little bearing on whether or not the Steelers' punishment of Ta'amu was sufficient. I don't recall anyone arguing that Hines Ward should have been cut for his DUI arrest, for example, because that incident was far less severe.

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