Sources: Big Ben suspension coming by Tuesday
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to suspend Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger(notes) on Monday or Tuesday as a result of the recent sexual assault investigation in Milledgeville, Ga., multiple sources have indicated to Yahoo! Sports.
Though the Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney announced last Monday that Roethlisberger wouldn’t be charged in the case and no player has ever been suspended under the league’s personal conduct policy without being at least charged with a crime, sources close to the quarterback said he is unlikely to fight the punishment.
Roethlisberger, who apologized following last week’s announcement for the negative attention the incident garnered, would prefer to put the matter to rest as quickly as possible, three sources close to him said.
“Ben understands where this is going and he knows there’s punishment he’ll have to take,” one of the aforementioned sources close to Roethlisberger said. “He knows how much this hurt the team and the league. He wants to make this right.”
While NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said he has been given no timetable for a decision, the question remains whether Goodell will keep the suspension to one or two games or make it four games or longer. It is also unknown whether the Steelers will levy an additional penalty upon Roethlisberger or if a punishment will be factored into the league’s suspension. Over the weekend, two league sources said Goodell was growing angrier by the day as more information from the investigation became public.
The investigation has included statements from witnesses in the case that a bodyguard in Roethlisberger’s entourage blocked other people from going to find Roethlisberger and the woman in a bathroom in the bar where the incident took place.
While the investigation details damaging evidence against the accuser as well and includes a statement by the woman that she didn’t want to press charges against Roethlisberger, it is clear that Roethlisberger is losing in the court of public opinion.
“After you read the file and you listen to the player, the only conclusion you can come to is that what he did is unbelievably stupid,” one of the league sources said. “How could he have really thought this was a good idea?”
This is the second straight offseason in which Roethlisberger has faced sexual misconduct allegations. A Nevada casino worker last July accused Roethlisberger of raping her in 2008. No criminal charges were filed in that case and the civil suit, which includes counter damages, is still ongoing.
The aftermath of the Roethlisberger investigation stands to dampen an eventful week for the NFL. The league will announce the 2010 NFL schedule on Tuesday and the 75th draft begins in prime time on Thursday.