News & Info/Headlines

Roethlisberger Gets Conditional 6-Game Suspension
The decision is now official: The NFL is sending a message to Ben Roethlisberger.

As ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen first reported, Roethlisberger was suspended for six games on Wednesday for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

The league has confirmed the suspension, which includes conditions that will allow it to be reduced to four games (or increased if need be) based on Roethlisberger's behavior and compliance with clinical evaluators.

Commissioner Roger Goodell's verdict reinforces a message that NFL employees will be held to a higher standard than the law.

Worth noting, Steelers employees were reportedly bracing Tuesday night for what they suspected would be an eight-game suspension.

But the entire affair still could have greater consequences.

According to Schefter, Pittsburgh has begun contacting teams to trade Roethlisberger for a top 10 pick -- and at least one team considering it. ...

In case you've somehow missed it, the suspension comes in the wake of accusations by a 20-year-old college student that the two-time Super Bowl champion sexually assaulted her in the bathroom of a Milledgeville, Ga. nightclub on March 5.

After a month-long investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, prosecutors announced April 12 that Roethlisberger, who maintained his innocence throughout, would not be charged in the case due to a lack of probable cause.

Documents detailing the investigation were released shortly after the announcement -- and those details weren't pretty.

In her statement to police, the accuser said Roethlisberger encouraged her and her friends to take shots of alcohol throughout the evening. One of Roethlisberger’s bodyguards then escorted the woman into a hallway at the Capital City nightclub where he sat her on a stool and left.

She said in the statement that Roethlisberger followed her down the hallway where he exposed himself. Roethlisberger followed the woman into a bathroom in the bar, according to the documents, where she says he had sex with her against her will.

Remember: Roethlisberger is still named in a Nevada civil suit alleging that he sexually assaulted a hotel employee in Lake Tahoe. Criminal charges were not filed in connection with that case.

According to the initial ESPN report, Roethlisberger is expected to accept the punishment without appeal (although that hasn't been confirmed yet). It's safe to say the embarrassing details of the incident (and perhaps Goodell's reaction to them in a meeting with Roethlisberger last week) might have something to do with his eagerness to move forward. ...

Meanwhile, Roethlisberger was on the field Tuesday for his second day of offseason workouts with his teammates. He did not speak with the media after practice.

But, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggested in an article published Tuesday night, it is apparent his tenuous situation is one of the reasons the Steelers made a trade with the Buccaneers to bring back Byron Leftwich, who joins Dennis Dixon and veteran Charlie Batch on the QB depth chart.

"They want me there and whatever they want me to do, I'll do," said Leftwich, who is expected to arrive in Pittsburgh today. "You don't make a trade for a guy for no reason."

The Steelers re-signed Batch last month and have expressed confidence in the progress of Dixon, who will enter his third season. ...

Assuming he remains a Steeler and misses the low end of the reported range, Roethlisberger could return to the team after a Week Five bye.

Worth noting: The Steelers are 5-5 in games not started by Roethlisberger since 2004. Pittsburgh's first four opponents this season are: Atlanta, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore. ...

Stay tuned. ... The Steelers' quarterback situation moves onto the list of situations worth watching as mini-camps and other off-season work begins in earnest following the week's NFL Draft. I will have more as developments warrant.