Roethlisberger not off the hook yet; NFL, team could take action

Bob Cohn
| Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger avoided a court date in Georgia, but he will spend a day soon with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — and the outcome might not be as favorable.

In addition, Steelers President Art Rooney II said Monday that "after consultation with the commissioner, our organization will determine the next steps in the process."

Roethlisberger, twice accused of sexual assault in the past nine months, can be suspended under the league's personal conduct policy even though no criminal charges resulted from either incident. Goodell has said he was "concerned" about Roethlisberger's behavior, and the two are scheduled to meet within a week.

According to the policy, the commissioner can order Roethlisberger to undergo a "formal clinical evaluation" that could result in counseling or treatment. He might be fined or suspended.

Former NFL player and coach Herm Edwards said he believes Roethlisberger will be suspended for at least one game.

"I would think he (Goodell) is gonna do something, and if not, I would assume the organization is gonna do something," said Edwards, an ESPN analyst.

Goodell in the past suspended players such as quarterback Michael Vick and wide receiver Plaxico Burress before they were convicted of crimes. He suspended defensive back Pacman Jones for a full year, even though Jones was arrested several times but not convicted.

"The problem is involvement," Edwards said of the Steelers star. "He's been involved in two incidents. One time is one time, but twice is twice, and it not only (hurts) the reputation of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the National Football League.

"There's a certain standard the (league) wants everyone to abide by," he said. "You represent the game of football, and how you conduct yourself off the field is very important in today's world. Whether you're convicted or not, if you keep showing up, something's not right."

Former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer said he believes suspension would "be a reach" and would not be deserved.

"I'd be surprised," he said. "I would find it hard to justify a suspension. What's he guilty of, going out and being a 28-year-old and making a poor judgment?"

But Dilfer, also an ESPN analyst, added: "(In) the National Football League, perception becomes reality. If you have yourself in the wrong position at the wrong time, the perception is you're making wrong decisions off the field."

The Steelers late Sunday traded one of their better players, wide receiver Santonio Holmes, to the New York Jets for a fifth-round draft choice. Hours after the trade, the NFL suspended Holmes for four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

"This is consistent with the way the Steelers have operated, and everyone knows their level of tolerance is not real large," said agent Bill Parise, who represents linebacker James Harrison.

In 2008, Harrison, the most valuable player of Super Bowl XLIII, was arrested in an alleged assault of his girlfriend. Charges were dropped after he completed anger management courses, and the Steelers took no action.

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