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Pittsburgh Steelers will discipline Ben Roethlisberger for off-field behavior

The Pittsburgh Steelers are prepared to discipline quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for his off-field behavior but do not plan to do so for at least two weeks.

Steelers President Art Rooney II addressed the media Thursday at team headquarters and said the club will coordinate with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who met with Roethlisberger earlier this week regarding an accusation the star quarterback sexually assaulted a 20-year-old college student. A district attorney in Georgia said Roethlisberger will not face criminal charges in connection with the alleged incident.

Regardless, Roethlisberger may face a suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. Only the league – and not an individual team – has the authority to punish a player for violating the Personal Conduct Policy, which states an employee of the league can be disciplined for conduct that “undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs or NFL players.”

In a prepared statement, Rooney said: “I have made it clear to Ben that his conduct in this incident did not live up to our standards. We have made it very clear to Ben that there will be consequences for his actions, and Ben has indicated to us that he is willing to accept those consequences.”

The Steelers have allowed Roethlisberger to join the team in workouts this week, Rooney said, “after we were convinced that he was sincerely contrite for his past behavior, as well having Ben’s assurance that he is firmly committed to working hard every day to regain the trust and respect of this organization and Steelers fans.”

Rooney said the possibility of trading Roethlisberger – predictable grist for the NFL rumor mill – has not been discussed with any teams.

Among Roethlisberger’s most outspoken critics is former Steelers star Terry Bradshaw, who said the quarterback is guilty of “embarrassing the city, the team and himself.”

“I would suspect that the commissioner will probably give him a suspension of two games,” said Bradshaw, a Fox Sports analyst who won four Super Bowls as quarterback of the Steelers. “If I were the commissioner, I would probably give him a suspension of two games, maybe four. You’ve got to send a message to the rest of the league.

“These [players] have so much money and so much power, they feel invincible. They can do and get whatever they want in life, and they have serious poor judgment. I like what the district attorney said: ‘My advice to Mr. Roethlisberger is grow up.’ I think that pretty much sums it up.”

This is the second time in less than two years Roethlisberger has faced similar accusations. Last July, a woman filed a civil lawsuit against him in Nevada alleging he sexually assaulted her in a Lake Tahoe hotel room in July 2008.

“I know the Rooney family well, and I promise you this: They are not happy about what’s going on right now,” Bradshaw said Wednesday, echoing what he has told several news outlets. “They’re embarrassed, they’re probably absolutely [irate]. This is Ben’s second accusation in two years. … Two in a row, that sends up some flags, man.

“I bet you anything that if they had a real hot prospect, knowing them, I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved him. As great a player as Ben has been, they’re a solid family. They don’t put up with [behavior] like that.”

sam.farmer@latimes.com


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