According to Sal Paolantonio of ESPN.com, 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.
Roethlisberger’s representatives seeking a reduction in the suspension is not a surprise but having the support of team president Art Rooney is a breakthrough for Roethlisberger.
Paolantonio reports Rooney will be attending the meeting in New York to support the quarterback’s case for a reduced suspension by at least three games.
Roethlisberger was suspended in April for six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy a week after prosecutors decided not charge him in a case involving a 20-year-old college student who accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Georgia nightclub in March.
One of the strongest advocates for the suspension was Rooney who was highly involved in the process as both sides called the suspension a joint effort.
At the time, Goodell pledged to consider reducing the length of the suspension if Roethlisberger complied with a number of league-imposed conditions, including a comprehensive behavioral evaluation, and stayed clear of any other off-field problems.
While attending Steelers training camp last month, Goodell said Roethlisberger has gone above and beyond in what he was asked to do. When pressed by reporters at the time of whether the suspension could be reduced by more than two games, Goodell was non-committal.
However, about thirty minutes later Steelers officials and league officials said the commissioner was taking out of context.
Rooney siding with Roethlisberger could have major implications and would be seen as very surprising.
Rooney has close ties to Goodell and was one of the main forces in getting Goodell into power a few years ago.
If there was any opportunity for the suspension to be reduced by more than two games, the only chance Roethlisberger had was if Art Rooney strongly supported the notion.