Ben Roethlisberger's Suspension Reduced to Four Games
What they haven't known is how many games Roethlisberger would have to sit out.
Now, they know.
Roethlisberger met Friday morning with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and his suspension has been reduced to four games. The reduction was originally reported by Jason LaCanfora of NFL Network on his Twitter page.
Roethlisberger was originally suspended six games, a move announced April 21. Goodell cited violations of the NFL's personal conduct policy in announcing the ban. At the time, the league said Roethlisberger's ban could be reduced to four games if he met certain conditions.
Goodell issued a statement in which he quotes a letter he sent to Roethlisberger.
"You have told me and the Steelers that you are committed to making better decisions," Goodell wrote. "Your actions over the past several months have been consistent with that promise and you must continue to honor that commitment."
In his statement, Goodell also notes his decision to reduce this suspension is "contingent on Roethlisberger continuing to adhere to the program established by our advisors," and Roethlisberger must avoid further violations of the policy.
Roethlisberger apparently convinced the commissioner that he would do just that.
"I have learned a lot over the past several months about myself as a person,'' Roethlisberger said in a prepared statement. "I am committed to continuing on this path of being the type of person my family raised me to be, and exceeding what is expected of me as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers."
Steelers president Art Rooney II also issued a statement, saying, "Commissioner Goodell informed us today that Ben Roethlisberger's suspension has been reduced to four games. Ben has done a good job this summer of growing as the person that he needs to be, both on and off the field. I am confident that Ben is committed to continuing in this positive direction. As a team, our focus is now on preparing for the regular season and getting off to a good start on opening weekend."
The Steelers have spent much of the summer preparing for life without their starting quarterback. However, veteran Byron Leftwich -- thought to be a serious candidate to start the season in Roethlisberger's place -- went down with a left knee injury Thursday night. Leftwich suffered a sprain of his medial collateral ligament and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks, according to multiple reports. That could make him likely unavailable for the Steelers' season opener. This could leave Dennis Dixon as the Steelers' Week 1 starter against Atlanta.
As is custom in NFL suspensions, Roethlisberger is not allowed to have any contact with team officials. He also can't be at the team's facility, attend games, represent the team in public, and he is supposed to avoid football-related activities or discussions with teammates.
Pittsburgh opens with Atlanta at home before visiting Tennessee and Tampa Bay, then the Steelers host Baltimore before their bye week in Week 5. Roethlisberger would be eligible to return to the team's facility after the Baltimore game, and he will be able to play in Week 6, Oct. 17 at home against Cleveland.