Having taken the temperature of members of the Steelers’ organization, I am more convinced than ever that Ben Roethlisberger will miss at least a game or two of the 2010 NFL season for his actions this offseason.
Roethlisberger was joined by his agents and lawyer in New York on Tuesday afternoon to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at league headquarters. Roethlisberger has wounded his reputation in the Pittsburgh community and nationwide, and the events of Monday likely eliminated any doubt about a possible suspension from the league or the team.
At a news conference Monday, the district attorney gave a detailed account of the investigation into what took place between the franchise quarterback and a 20-year-old female student in a small bathroom of a nightclub in a rural Georgia college town. The lurid nature of that encounter, when coupled with a current sexual assault civil suit pending against Roethlisberger in Nevada, and other nightlife behavior that Steelers officials believe could be problematic, has created a situation that both the league and the team seek to avoid again.
When asked if he foresaw a suspension of at least a few games as the outcome of Roethlisberger’s meeting with the commissioner, a team source said, “Definitely. Especially after the (D.A.’s) press conference Monday.”
Roethlisberger’s meeting in New York was scheduled to last roughly three hours — he arrived at league headquarters around 2 p.m. ET — but no decision on discipline is expected for a few weeks. When that decision does come, however, given the stance of the Rooney family and Goodell’s commitment to player conduct, I can’t imagine it not involving a suspension of some sort (it could end up being discipline handed down by the team, not necessarily the league). A component of counseling also could be involved.
As I have reported for several weeks, regardless of Roethlisberger’s legal culpability in any of these cases, should his nighttime or leisure-time decisions result in allegations or situations like this again, many people in the Steelers’ organization believe that would be the end of the quarterback’s tenure with the team, regardless of financial or salary-cap ramifications.