Roethlisberger suspended six games as trade rumours begin
April 23, 2010
Two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games by National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell Wednesday for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Although he avoided criminal charges, the 28-year-old Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback was accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old college student in a Georgia nightclub last month.
The suspension announced this week came after Georgia police conducted an investigation into the incident and documents were released outlining his tawdry behavior.
In a carefully-executed series of statements before and after the suspension was announced Wednesday, commissioner Goodell appeared on the Dan Patrick Radio Show to say Roethlisberger violated the league’s personal-conduct policy with his “pattern of behavior” and “bad judgments.”
Appearing Monday on the Patrick show – the same day Roethlisberger was practicing for the first time this spring – Goodell said: “You do not have to be convicted or even charged with a crime to be able to demonstrate that you’ve violated a personal-conduct policy, and reflect poorly not only on themselves, but all of their teammates, every N.F.L. player in the league, and everyone associated with the N.F.L.”
The suspension will be six games but subject to a reduction to four games – or even an increase – depending on how Roethlisberger deals with counseling.
Rumours began immediately around Pittsburgh looking to trade the star quarterback, especially in the aftermath of the April 11th trade which sent star wide receiver Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick. Holmes had received a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and suffered a series of legal troubles in a fall from grace after catching the last-minute, winning touchdown from Roethlisberger in Super Bowl XLIII.
On Holmes, Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said Monday: "Santonio Holmes helped us win the Super Bowl. He was a big part of this organization. We both moved on. We wish Santonio the best. We expect a lot out of all our players, not only on the field but off the field as well."
On Roethlisberger, Colbert said: "We don't talk about specific players that may or may not be involved in trades. I will say that a normal procedure for us is to contact every team before the draft and we have done that.”
Meanwhile, USA Today’s Sean Leahy reported that the intense wave of public criticism of the Steelers quarterback caused a Pittsburgh zoo to remove a wall poster of Roethlisberger in a display and replace it with one of former Pittsburgh Penguins star and current co-owner Mario Lemieux.
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium spokesperson Tracy Gray told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the zoo removed the wall poster after receiving a series of calls protesting Roethlisberger’s image and association with the zoo, a popular destination for schools and other children’s groups. “Mr. Roethlisberger isn’t the most popular person lately.”
The Roethlisberger image was on display measuring the height of the zoo's elephants.
www.TheSportMarket.biz with files from Sean Leahy of USA Today, Associated Press and the New York Times.