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Steelers, NFL to discipline Ben Roethlisberger

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger broke a trust with fans and the Steelers organization, but he will get a chance to redeem himself, team president Art Rooney II said Thursday.

"We've told him that it's going to be a long journey back, and he's going to have to be up to the challenge," Rooney said.

Rooney said Roethlisberger likely will miss the start of the 2010 season. The Steelers are working with the National Football League to determine how to discipline the two-time Super Bowl winner, twice accused of sexual assault since July 2009. He has denied any wrongdoing.

"At this point, we have not discussed a trade with any other club," Rooney said.

The Steelers did not allow Roethlisberger to practice at their South Side facility until this week, he said. Workouts began March 29.

"We allowed Ben to (return) after we were convinced that he was sincerely contrite for his past behavior, as well as having Ben's assurance that he is firmly committed to working hard every day to regain the trust and respect of this organization and Steelers fans," Rooney said.

Rooney said the widely-publicized rape investigation of the quarterback in Georgia -- following a night of bar-hopping with friends -- hurt the Steelers' image.

"We're very concerned about how our fans view the situation," Rooney said. "I think we understand that we all in the organization have to work to earn that trust back."

Veteran wide receiver Hines Ward agreed.

"I'm discouraged a little bit because the Pittsburgh Steelers come with a high level," Ward said after a speaking engagement in North Hills High School. "Expectations are high. It's unfortunate that our organization has to be in the news like this."

Rooney said the trade of star wide receiver Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets had nothing to do with the Roethlisberger situation. Holmes is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

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