Earlier in the day, league sources told FanHouse's Dave Goldberg that Roethllsberger's suspension would be anywhere from four to six games, subject to the QB's behavior.
Like many of the suspensions imposed by Goodell, it will be flexible depending on how the Pittsburgh quarterback conducts himself during the suspension. According to Greg Aiello, Goodell will reevaluate the suspension prior to the season and could reduce it to four games if Roethlisberger makes ample behavioral progress, but also has the option of lengthening the suspension if the Steelers QB does not.
The Steelers already have set down a new "zero tolerance'' warning to their own players on off-field behavior.
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A prosecutor in Milledgeville, Ga., declined to press to press charges of sexual abuse against Roethlisberger after a college student filed a complaint alleging he sexually assaulted her on March 5. The woman later asked authorities not to pursue the matter.
Despite the lack of charges, Goodell and other NFL officials think they have the latitude within the commissioner's personal conduct policy to hand down the suspension.
The decision to make the suspension 4-6 games was enhanced by a police report, issued after the decision was announced, that said the young woman said she tried to get away from the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and told him "no, this is not OK." Roethlisberger didn't listen, had sex with her in a bathroom and his body guards prevented her friends from rescuing her, the victim and her friends claimed in the report.
"I told him it wasn't OK; no, we don't need to do this, and I proceeded to get up and try to leave," the 20-year old accuser said. "I went to the first door I saw, which happened to be the bathroom, and shut the door behind him. I still said no, this is not OK, and he then had sex with me. He said it was OK. He then left without saying anything."
The woman also claimed that the NFL star told her and her friends to take shots of alcohol, before the alleged sexual assault occurred, the documents said. Her friends says Roethlisberger's bodyguards took her down the hall to a bathroom, the police documents said, adding that the friends told the bodyguards she was drunk and shouldn't be alone with the football player.
The reports said the guard prevented that.
Pittsburgh hosts Atlanta in Week 1, then has back-to-back road games at Tennessee and Tampa Bay, before coming home to play Baltimore in Week 4. Roethlisberger would miss all of those contests under this suspension and possibly be forced to sit out Pittsburgh's Week 6 game versus Cleveland and Week 7 game at Miami as well.
After the maximum six-game suspension would expire, the Steelers play three consecutive nationally-televised prime-time games: at New Orleans on Oct. 31, at Cincinnati on Nov. 8 and against New England in Pittsburgh on Nov. 14.
- FanHouse senior NFL writer Dave Goldberg contributed to this report.