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Steelers leave door open for punishment of Roethlisberger

With District Attorney Fred Bright announcing today that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won’t face charges for sexual assault, the Steelers have reacted to the news.

“The investigation process in Georgia has been deliberate and the District Attorney’s decision regarding Ben Roethlisberger speaks for itself,” team president Art Rooney II said.

“During the past few weeks I have met with Ben on a number of occasions, not only to discuss this incident, but also to discuss his commitment to making sure something like this never happens again. The Pittsburgh Steelers take the conduct of players and staff very seriously. Ben will now have to work hard to earn back the respect and trust of Steelers fans, and to live up to the leadership responsibilities we all expect of him.

“In the coming days Ben will meet with Commissioner Goodell to discuss his resolve to abide by the league’s personal conduct standards. After consultation with the Commissioner, our organization will determine the next steps in this process.”

That last sentence leaves the door open for a team-imposed suspension. We continue to believe that the league office will choose not to set a precedent of disciplining players under the Personal Conduct Policy who have never been arrested or charged, and that the Steelers will impose a short suspension of one or two games for conduct detrimental to the team.

Though Roethlisberger could fight a team-imposed suspension, we think Goodell will make it loud and clear to the quarterback that accepting the punishment is the right thing to do in light of the worry and strain that his behavior has caused.