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Old 04-12-2010, 06:35 PM   #1
A Son of Martha

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Default Ball in Roger Goodell's court

Ball in Roger Goodell's court
April, 12, 2010
By James Walker

Now that it's official, and charges will not be brought against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for sexual assault, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will be next to weigh in.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Monday that Goodell is expected to meet with Roethlisberger this week. It will be one of the more interesting cases to come across Goodell's desk in his four years as commissioner. Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault twice in less than a year, but the quarterback has not been convicted of a crime. Roethlisberger also faces a civil lawsuit filed by a Nevada woman who says he raped her in 2008, an allegation the quarterback denies.

Here are factors Goodell must weigh for and against a Roethlisberger suspension:

Case for a suspension

* Poor personal conduct: Although Roethlisberger has not been charged with a crime, the commissioner could suspend him for violating the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy. Although we don't know all the facts in Roethlisberger's latest incident, we do know he displayed questionable judgment by placing himself in a precarious position. Expect the league to seek as much information as possible from Milledgeville police. The decisions Roethlisberger made that night could be factored against him in the final decision.

* Timing is important: Being accused of sexual assault twice in such a short span is enough to catch Goodell's attention, and it may be enough to garner a suspension. The first allegation in Nevada came about last summer, and at that time there was no talk of suspending Roethlisberger. But when the second allegation took place, the NFL had to seriously question whether Roethlisberger learned from his experiences. Roethlisberger's response in his meeting with the commissioner could weigh heavily in the league's ruling.

Case against a suspension

* No record: Before the past two sexual assault allegations, Roethlisberger had no history of misconduct, which is something Goodell must consider. Roethlisberger has not been charged with a crime, which could carry weight with the NFL. Without a criminal record, this might buy Roethlisberger at least one more pass without losing playing time.

* Leave it to the Steelers: Pittsburgh might be able to do itself a favor by being proactive and suspending Roethlisberger first. That would involve a little bit of gamesmanship with the league. The Steelers may be able to get away with sitting Roethlisberger for one game in hopes that the NFL doesn't suspend Roethlisberger for two or four games, which would drastically impact Pittsburgh's 2010 season. As evident by the Santonio Holmes trade, it's clear the Steelers are fed up with off-the-field misconduct. So do not completely rule out a team-imposed suspension. It would be an interesting way for the Steelers to send Roethlisberger a message while taking matters into their own hands -- and potentially keeping it out of the NFL's.
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