Approximately 25 protesters gathered at the gates to Heinz Field prior to yesterday’s Browns/Steelers tilt, expressing their disapproval over Ben Roethlisberger’s return to the Pittsburgh lineup following a 4 game suspension for raping everything that moves violating the league’s ever-fluid personal conduct policy. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Kaitlynn Riely :

Most of the protesters wore black shirts or sweatshirts and bandanas over their noses and mouths, though there was one female protester dressed as a ninja turtle. They described themselves as Steelers fans and held signs that said “Don’t Let Big Ben Rape Again” and “Consent is not a game.”

“We think it’s shameful and embarrassing,” said Alecia Ott, 24, of Garfield, one of the event’s organizers. “And people frankly can’t cheer for the team when they know that there is a sexual predator on the team, on the roster.”

But as Steelers fans tailgated and made their way into Heinz Field for the Sunday afternoon game against the Cleveland Browns, it appeared Ms. Ott and the other protesters held the minority view.

Thousands of Steelers fans passed by the protesters on their way to the game, many of them wearing the No. 7 jersey of Mr. Roethlisberger and many more trading taunts with the protesters and voicing their support for the quarterback.

One of Mr. Roethlisberger’s supporters was Kathy Alvarez, originally from Pittsburgh but now living in Smyrna, Ga. She and her two nephews stood opposite a protest sign and held up a sign welcoming Mr. Roethlisberger back.

“I really think that there’s not charges filed against him, so we need to support him,” she said.

Pro Football Talk’s every-charming Mike Florio — whose views are not necessarily endorsed by NBC/Universal, right? — suggested the protesters’ identities were kept secret because “perhaps the person leading the way had been eating too much Beefareeno”. And not to diminish the seriousness of such civil disobedience, but chance are, every NFL team has a handful of sexual predators on their roster.  Probably a couple of Etsy sellers and Laibach fans, too.