Goodell: Roethlisberger on the right track
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday he won't make a decision on the length of Ben Roethlisberger's suspension until later this month.
But it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Steelers' quarterback will serve the minimum of the four-to-six game ban he received in April for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
Goodell had positive if not glowing things to say about Roethlisberger and the progress the latter has made since receiving a mandate from the commissioner to change his ways.
Goodell, who visited Steelers training camp yesterday, talked with Roethlisberger before leaving St. Vincent College. He said he will meet with Roethlisberger in New York before deciding how much of the regular season the seventh-year veteran has to miss.
"I think he's worked hard to really try to improve and focus on himself and understand what's he's been through and what he's going to do differently going forward," Goodell said. "He hasn't just done what he's been told to do. I think that's a very positive thing. I'm very encouraged by what he's doing. I'll take the period of time that I have before making the decision and make it probably right before the regular season."
Barring a regression by Roethlisberger, whose boorish behavior jeopardized his career in Pittsburgh, the Steelers should have their franchise quarterback back for an Oct. 17 game against the visiting Browns.
"Obviously that is the commissioner's call," Roethlisberger said. "He has the right to do what he feels is right, to make his league run the way he wants it to be run."
Goodell, who is taking a tour of NFL training camps, met with reporters during the Steelers' morning practice yesterday.
He created some initial confusion when he twice didn't directly answer questions about the length of the suspension — and specifically whether it could be fewer than four games.
"I'll make that decision later this month," Goodell said.
Goodell, however, is not expected to deviate from the minimum four-game suspension he set in a letter he sent to Roethlisberger in April.
Goodell declined to go into specifics regarding the program the NFL designed for Roethlisberger after Goodell gave him a conditional suspension.
Roethlisberger, who underwent a comprehensive behavioral evaluation, said giving back to the community is part of his personal rehabilitation process.
He said he has given time to Ronald McDonald's houses and the Salvation Army. Roethlisberger also went to Steelers community relations manager Michele Rosenthal during the offseason and offered to help wherever she needed it.
"Those are things I like to keep quiet because I don't think it is about everybody knowing," Roethlisberger said of his charity work. "But we have let (Goodell) know that we have been doing those things."
Goodell talked to reporters for nearly seven-and-half minutes yesterday. Not one question dealt with the possibility of a lockout next year or the commissioner pushing for the addition of two regular-season games and the subtraction of two exhibition contests.
He was asked several times about the personal conduct policy he enacted in 2007, and how he applies it to misbehaving players.
Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault twice within a nine-month span, but he has never been arrested or charged with a crime.
Goodell said he took a hard line against Roethlisberger not to make an example of him but to get him back on the right path.
"What we're doing here is changing the behavior and hopefully helping the individual to make better decisions, which will serve him well in the long term," Goodell said. "As I've said frequently, we're about extending careers, not ending careers, and I think this is helpful."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell talked to the media about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger Thursday during a visit to Steelers training camp. Here is what he said on the following:
• Why he will wait until late in the preseason before deciding on the length of Roethlisberger's suspension:
'It's basically to make sure that you take as much time to evaluate and make that decision, and we also have to consider the competitive issues. I think that's an appropriate time to let the team know.'
• His observation that Roethlisberger is doing more than the commissioner has asked of him:
'I think he's understanding the seriousness of the issue and working to improve and to make better decisions, and I think that's a very positive development.'
• What he expects from Roethlisberger while he is suspended:
'I hope he'll continue to focus on himself and work on what his advisers are suggesting he needs to focus on and use it as a productive period for him.'
• How some Steelers fans were unhappy with the punishment and thought it to be excessive:
'I haven't heard that. I make a lot of decisions. There is no decision I can make that is unanimous. You have to make what you think is the right decision.'