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Question of the day: What action should the NFL and the Steelers take -- if any -- in regard to Ben Roethlisberger? [Updated]

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Four reporters from the Tribune Co. give their answers to the question regarding the Steelers quarterback, who was accused of sexual assault. Authorities announced Monday they would not charge Roethlisberger. Check back for updates throughout the day, and feel free to leave a comment expressing your opinion.

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

On the where-there’s-smoke-there’s-fire scale, Big Ben is smokier than a teachers lounge. He hasn’t been convicted of anything, true, but that’s not the standard by which the NFL suspends its employees.

Under the league’s personal-conduct policy, discipline may be imposed in lots of different circumstances including for conduct that “undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs or NFL players.” Roethlisberger admitted to doing just that in his prepared apology Monday, acknowledging the “negative attention” he had brought on his teammates, the family of Steelers President Art Rooney and the league. In a case where just about everything is murky, that’s one of the rare things on which everyone agrees.

There is some precedent for one of these cases. Pacman Jones was suspended for part of the 2008 season after an altercation with his bodyguard, even though no charges were filed. It’s not a perfect comparison, however, because Jones had an extensive history of running afoul of the personal-conduct policy and was on wafer-thin ice after sitting out the entire 2007 season after numerous run-ins with the law.

In the case of Roethlisberger, someone is going to take action – either the league, the Steelers or both.  Because there’s no conviction here, I think it’s most likely the suspension will come from the Steelers for conduct detrimental to the team. The Rooneys are said to be furious over Ben’s inability to stay out of the headlines.

I tossed out the question on Twitter – how long should Roethlisberger be suspended? – and follower Sean Sakimae gave a response that made sense to me: “tough- no arrest, no conviction, but now a history of poor judgment. Anything more than 2 gms seems harsh. 1gm NFL/1 gm PIT?” That argument makes sense to me, although I don’t think the league will levy the punishment. I predict Roethlisberger will be suspended by the Steelers for two games – sending the message that he now has two strikes.

Ken Murray, Baltimore Sun

Anything less than a two-game suspension is a meaningless slap on the wrist. And if the Steelers were disgruntled enough to trade Santonio Holmes for his alleged indiscretion, then they should step up and suspend Roethlisberger themselves, not wait for Commissioner Roger Goodell to do the deed. The difference between a wide receiver and a franchise quarterback is the biggest reason Roethlisberger will keep his job and Holmes didn't.

It is fact that Roethlisberger was not charged with a crime. But to see the alleged details of the incident -- plying the young woman with shots and having a bodyguard cover for him outside the bathroom -- is to ponder the definition of predator.

How much warning does this young man need before he understands he needs a change in lifestyle? Goodell's personal-conduct policy in the NFL speaks to a higher standard. How much lower can Roethlisberger get? He's guilty of more than poor judgment. He should consider himself fortunate to get off with a two-game suspension.

[Updated 8:49 a.m.

Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune

Here is the problem with Ben Roethlisberger: He isn’t some second-string guard who is unrecognizable to most of the world without a jersey number. Roethlisberger is one of the faces of the NFL, and he has a big, round bull's-eye on his back. His behavior certainly has cast the Steelers in a bad light, so some critics are expecting a severe punishment.

But Roethlisberger needs to be treated like every other player in the league and, really, every other American. In this country, you are innocent until proved guilty. Roethlisberger was not convicted of a crime. He was not even charged with one. So other than getting a stern talking to from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Roethlisberger probably will escape the pressure again this time — which he is so good at doing.]

Photo: Ben Roethlisberger addresses the media Monday. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press.

 
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