Comissioner Roger Goodell levied a six-game suspension on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and imposed behavioral evaluation and counseling. Depending on how that counseling goes, and Big Ben's behavior prior to the season, that suspension could be reduced to four games, but no lower.
The measures were taken for Roethlisberger's violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
"The personal conduct policy makes clear that I may impose discipline 'even where the conduct does not result in conviction of a crime' as, for example, where the conduct 'imposes inherent danger to the safety and well being of another person'," Goodell stated in his letter to Roethlisberger.
Goodell was speaking mainly about the issues that arose in his recent incident with a college co-ed in Milledgeville, Ga., in which the co-ed accused him of rape during a drunken encounter. The Georgia district attorney did not press charges.
"As the District Attorney concluded, the extensive investigatory record shows that you contributed to the irresponsible consumption of alcohol by purchasing (or facilitating the purchase of) alcoholic beverages for underage college students, at least some of whom were likely already intoxicated," Goodell said. "There is no question that the excessive consumption of alcohol that evening put the students and yourself at risk. The personal-conduct policy also states that discipline is appropriate for conduct that ‘undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL players.’ By any measure, your conduct satisfies that standard."
He continued, "I recognize that the allegations in Georgia were disputed and that they did not result in criminal charges being filed against you. My decision today is not based on a finding that you violated Georgia law, or on a conclusion that differs from that of the local prosecutor. That said, you are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans.
"In your six years in the NFL, you have first thrilled and now disappointed a great many people. I urge you to take full advantage of this opportunity to get your life and career back on track."
Besides that, a report out of Pittsburgh said the Steelers might entertain a draft-day trade for Roethlisberger if the price is right.
Not a good day to be Big Ben.