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Steelers quarterback awaits word from NFL

| Thursday, May 13, 2010

Upon completing an NFL-mandated behavioral evaluation last week, Ben Roethlisberger awaits confirmation when — and if — he can resume offseason workouts with the Steelers.

According to an report, Commissioner Roger Goodell could recommend that Roethlisberger receive further evaluation following sexual-assault allegations against the quarterback. Team officials haven't been given a timetable for his return.

The Steelers resume voluntary practices May 18-20. Additional sessions are scheduled May 25-27, June 1-3 and June 8-10.

Roethlisberger received a six-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy. The punishment can be reduced to four games if Roethlisberger abides by all of Goodell's stipulations.

A professional behavioral evaluation is mandatory for anyone who has violated the personal-conduct policy.

Roethlisberger is the 15th player suspended by Goodell for violating the policy.

The earliest that Roethlisberger can return to the playing field is Oct. 17. He could be eligible to join the team for training camp in July.

Roethlisberger's status for re-joining the Steelers during offseason workouts remains uncertain.

He will not be allowed to re-join the team until the evaluators confirm to Goodell that Roethlisberger is ready to resume football activities.

"The rules are quite clear in terms of what he can and cannot do as it relates to being at the facility and working out and being a part of team activities,'' NFL Players Association spokesperson Carl Francis said. "It's pretty clear-cut.''

In determining whether Roethlisberger can re-join the Steelers prior to training camp, Goodell will likely consult with the NFLPA Advisory Council, and he may seek the opinions of medical, law enforcement and other relevant professionals.

Under a conditional reinstatement imposed last summer, Goodell originally suspended former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick for six games but reduced the penalty to the first three games of the 2009 season.

Goodell became convinced that Vick, who served nearly two years in prison for his role in operating a dogfighting ring, deserved to return to the NFL ahead of schedule due to his change in behavior.

After signing with the Philadelphia Eagles, Vick — who spoke with Goodell weekly — was among the first players to arrive each day to the team's facility, spent long hours watching film with coaches and attended bible school regularly.

"He was genuinely remorseful,'' Goodell said of Vick.

In his letter to Roethlisberger detailing the suspension, Goodell described what he expects from the quarterback.

"I believe it is essential that you take full advantage of the resources available to you,'' Goodell wrote. "My ultimate disposition in this matter will be influenced by the extent which you do so, what you learn as a result and a demonstrated commitment to making positive change in your life.''

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