The last time Ben Roethlisberger was in New York to meet with Roger Goodell, it was the day after his Millyvegas-related hobo press conference, quite possibly the lowlight of his Steelers career. Thankfully, somebody had the decency to insist that Ben cut the mullet, shave, iron his clothes, and slap on a tie before the face-to-face with the commissioner.
And this Friday, nearly five months after their first get-together, Ben will again be in the league offices to meet with Rog, this time to learn the length of his suspension. Earlier this week, the Washington Post‘s Mike Wise, unfamiliar with the nuances of social media and truth-telling, tweeted that Ben would get five games. Turns out, that was a joke gone horribly wrong.
Most of us just assumed that Goodell would slap Ben with a four-game suspension for good behavior and the next time we would see him would be against the Browns in Week 6. Well, here’s another wrinkle: Roethlisberger will ask that his suspension be reduced by to three games.
In Friday’s meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Ben Roethlisberger’s representatives plan to ask the commissioner to reduce the six-game suspension by at least three games, bringing along team president Arthur J. Rooney II to the New York meeting to support the quarterback’s case, sources with knowledge of upcoming proceedings told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio. …
Some in the Roethlisberger camp have argued since Roethlisberger is the first player suspended by Goodell under the personal conduct policy who has not been arrested, charged with or convicted of a crime, he should not be suspended more than two games. His camp has always considered the six game suspension too harsh. But few believe Goodell will go that far, and some in the Roethlisberger camp do not want to anger the commissioner by asking for too much.
A couple thoughts:
1. I think it says something that Art Rooney II will be in New York since he was very clear last spring that Ben’s behavior was unacceptable and that the quarterback would be on a short leash going forward. Of course, Rooney, having had time to gain some perspective — and exposure to the lackluster crop of quarterback options … not to mention a closer look at the schedule — might also have the team’s best interest in mind too. Whatever, it can’t hurt to bring him along.
2. Then there’s the issue of Roethlisberger as the Conduct Policy guinea pig. I heard somebody say recently (can’t remember who) that Steelers fans have gone from loathing Ben for his piggish behavior to blaming Goodell for suspending a player who hadn’t been arrested. Especially when guys like Shaun Rogers (gun possession) and Cedric Benson (DUI) won’t miss a game despite recent legal run-ins.
Whatever your thoughts on Roethlisberger, it’s hard to argue that Goodell’s punishments aren’t arbitrary. Then again, this isn’t a court of law and the commissioner is free to rule as he sees fit. And given his track record, I wouldn’t be surprised if he made Ben sit out the season.
Actually, like most people, I’m expecting a four-game ban, but if Roethlisberger’s people can somehow talk Goodell down to three games — or God help us, two — it completely changes … well, everything.
For starters, it means that Ben will be back for the Week 4 Ravens game (and possibly the Week 3 matchup against the Titans). That’s huge. It also makes the quarterback-by-committee-and-duct-tape decisions a hell of a lot easier. Managing Byron, Dennis, Chaz or some combination is much less tedious when you know Ben will be back before the bye week. Plus, it warms my heart to know that the idea has to really bum the Ravens out.
That said, I’m not getting my hopes up. I’m banking on four games because Goodell gives me no reason to believe otherwise. … Unless Peter King knows something the rest of us don’t.