Though Ben Roethisberger seems to be taking the right steps toward mending his relationship with the NFL, commissioner Roger Goodell says he has yet to make a decision on shortening his suspension. The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is facing a six-game suspension to start the 2010 NFL season.
Goodell attended Steelers training camp Thursday to check on the progress of the Steelers’ signal caller. Roethlisberger is scheduled to meet with the commissioner again at the end of the month in New York to discuss the length of the suspension. NFL betting trends may not favor the Steelers until Roethlisberger returns to the field.
If Goodell does knock games off Roethisberger’s suspension, the new length of the suspension is expected to be four games. That would mean the Steelers’ starter would be available to play October 17 at home versus the Cleveland Browns. Roethlisberger would have to wait until Halloween to take on the New Orleans Saints if the suspension remains at six games.
“I’m very encouraged by what he’s doing,” Goodell said. “I’ll take the period of time that I have before making the decision and make it probably right before the regular season.”
During his interview, Goodell offered little detail about the specifics of Roethlisberger’s off-season program.
“He’s got to work through the program that’s designed for him to help him. A lot of that is confidential, but he’s done it and he’s done it with enthusiasm. I think that’s a good thing,” Goodell added.
Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault back on March 5 in Milledgeville, Georgia. No criminal charges were filed against the quarterback, but the attention brought to himself and his team were enough to justify a suspension. He was also accused of sexually assaulting a hotel employee in Lake Tahoe, Nevada at a celebrity golf tournament.
His transgressions off the field have left many Steelers’ fans disillusioned. They will be happy to hear that Goodell has seen marked improvement in the quarterback’s behavior and attitude. An early return by Roethlisberger could also improve the Steelers’ 2010 NFL odds.
“I think he’s doing great,” Goodell said. “I had a chance to chat with him … and I’m very encouraged by what I’m seeing. I think he’s understanding the seriousness of the issue and is working to improve and to make better decisions. I think that’s a very positive development.”
NFL betting lines have set the Steelers chances of winning the AFC North just behind the Baltimore Ravens at +210.