The promos for Tuesday night’s episode of The Bachelorette made it look as though Chad was about to follow through on his threats and become physically violent with people. While we knew that was probably bogus, he did indeed threaten his fellow contestants, actions that seemed to fit nicely into the football-themed group date, starring none other than Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and accused rapist Ben Roethlisberger.
“It feels so good to be in Pennsylvania,” JoJo said, probably the first to ever express that sentiment in that specific way. She would soon find herself dealing with the positives (they’re so sexy!) and the negatives of manly men (threats of violence are actually not that sexy!).
“It’s manly, rugged. There’s just something about it that I really feel comfortable,” Evan—the least manly of the men JoJo has left—said of the house in the woods where they’d be staying. Soon after, he and a bunch of the other guys would find themselves with Roethlisberger (as well as fellow Steelers Hines Ward and Brett Keisel), about to play their own little football game at Heinz Field.
The boys were starstruck. “In the middle is Big Ben Roethlisberger, one of the best quarterbacks in professional football,” Vinny said. “It was intense seeing somebody that you’ve grown up and watched on TV standing in front of you.”
“Holy fuck. That is Ben Roethlisberger standing right in front of me,” said another suitor. “Are you kidding me right now?”
Roethlisberger delivered his lines beautifully. “Hopefully we can do our small part and help you find true love,” he said to JoJo. “I wish you nothing but the best.” Later, he was seen in the stands looking out at the men fumbling while eating a snack. He gave one chuckle and said of one of the men, “He is abusing people out there.”
As my coworker Ellie has pointed out, there’s an episode or two like this in every season of The Bachelorette, where the men have to do something physical, and someone always gets hurt. But until that moment, JoJo was happy to see some dudes sweatin’ for her. “They look phenomenal,” she said. Eventually, James Taylor—not the singer-songwriter but yes, a singer-songwriter—started bleeding from the head and was informed he would require stitches.
“Today was so cool and so fun. it was great to see these guys give it everything they had,” JoJo said, later adding, “Today was easily one of the best days of my life.” And from her blog on the episode, where she revealed Roethlisberger’s wife Ashley loves the show:
I couldn’t wait for the look on the guys’ faces when they found out. Plus, who doesn’t want to watch a bunch of hot guys play some football? I’m from Texas after all, where football is in our blood! In true Texas football fashion, my guys went after it. Hard. I was shocked by just how quickly they went from zero to a hundred. But poor James T! I felt terrible when he got injured. I love seeing the guys really give it a hundred percent, but I never want to see anyone get hurt.
But later, that male physical exertion she loved took a turn. JoJo learned of Chad’s threats, which had gotten worse: he told her beloved Jordan (a former football player) that he might come find him when the show was all over. “I’m not an aggressive guy,” Chad said, later proving otherwise when he told Alex during their two-on-one date, “It’s unfortunate that I can’t hurt you right now without getting into trouble.”
Who knows how much of Chad Being Chad was an act, or was misrepresented on TV or egged on by producers (though the show certainly included plenty of footage of the men not liking him, to the point where we can believe them at least a little). The disavowal of Chad’s violence, on behalf of both the producers and JoJo (who gets a small pass for not being around when a lot of this was happening), was half-hearted at that. Both parties like it when it’s making for entertaining television—but this went a little too far. Chad was celebrated for his bully act until he was told he’d taken it too far and JoJo finally sent him home. It was suggested that he should have known the lines, but were they ever really made clear?
“I don’t want to be with someone who thinks physical violence is the way to handle things,” said JoJo. It was just a few minutes after she’d encouraged a group of men to throw each other down in front of an accused rapist.