Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for six games without pay Wednesday for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy and ordered to undergo behavioral evaluation.
Roethlisberger, who has led the Steelers to two Super Bowl titles in the past decade, faced the threat of criminal charges after a woman accused him of raping her in a Milledgeville, Georgia, bar in March. The quarterback’s lawyer said no sexual assault took place, and prosecutors decided last week that they could not prove that a crime had been committed.
But in suspending Roethlisberger, Goodell said nothing about his conduct “can remotely be described as admirable, responsible or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans.”
“Your conduct raises sufficient concerns that I believe effective intervention now is the best step for your personal and professional welfare,” Goodell said in a letter accompanying the suspension. He urged Roethlisberger “to take full advantage of this opportunity to get your life and career back on track.”
Both ESPN and FoxSports.com were reporting that the suspension would contain conditions that would allow the length of the ban to be reduced.
The suspension was expected by the Steelers, who reacquired quarterback Byron Leftwich from Tampa Bay on Tuesday night for a seventh-round draft pick. Leftwich is expected to compete with third-year QB Dennis Dixon to start the Steelers’ first four games, which include three against non-playoff teams from last season. The Steelers now have four quarterbacks on their roster.
The NFL and the Steelers were angered and embarrassed by the tawdry details of Roethlisberger’s night out March 3.
AP pro football writer Barry Wilner says the six-game suspension handed down to Ben Roethlisberger Wednesday follows a pattern set forth by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.