Steelers may be forced to throw in the towel!

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for six games by Commissioner Roger Goddell on Wednesday for violating the NFL’s conduct policy.

The suspension comes as a result of Roethlisberger being accused of sexual assault. Although he was not charged with a crime, commissioner Goddell felt it was necessary for a suspension.

“The Personal Conduct Policy states that discipline is appropriate for conduct that ‘undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs or NFL players.’ By any measure, your conduct satisfies that standard,” said Goddell in a letter to Roethlisberger.

As the District Attorney concluded, “the extensive investigatory record shows that you contributed to the irresponsible consumption of alcohol by purchasing (or facilitating the purchase of) alcoholic beverages for underage college students, at least some of whom were likely already intoxicated. There is no question that the excessive consumption of alcohol that evening put the students and yourself at risk.”

In addition to the suspension, Roethlisberger must undergo treatment which is being referred to as “comprehensive behavioral evaluation by medical professionals.” He is also set to lose about $2.8 million from missing those six games.

This is the second sexual assault incident in two years for Roethlisberger. In July 2009, a civil suit was filed by a woman against Roethlisberger for sexual assaulting her in June of 2008. Eventually the case was thrown out and that was the end of it. But now, this has come up.

As a result, the Steelers have made it known that their two-time super bowl quarterback is available. These recent incidents have angered Steelers management and they have made it clear that no one is above the team.

This is the second off-the-field incident this offseason for the Steelers.

In March, a woman claimed that Holmes threw a glass at her in a nightclub in Orlando and it cut her above the eye.

He also was arrested twice in 2006, once for disorderly conduct and once for domestic violence. The chargers were dropped in both cases. In 2008, he was pulled over and charged with possession of marijuana.Holmes and Roethlisberger were arguably the team’s two best players on offense last season. Even with both players, the Steelers missed the playoffs and clearly were not the same team that made the playoffs in the years before. While Hines Ward and improving receiver Mike Wallace still remain, Holmes will still be missed heavily. And trading Roethlisberger would be big a mistake.

The Steelers have traditionally been a team that likes to run the football and rely on their defense. Over the last four years, that has changed thanks to Roethlisberger. Their running attack is not as good as it once was and the identity has shifted to a short passing attack that has been just as effective. Last season he set a career high in passing yards with 4,328.

The Steelers are in a vulnerable position. Do they trade their franchise quarterback and start over or do they just deal with his issues? Whatever they do, one thing is clear. If they trade Ben, it will mark the end of an era in Pittsburgh.

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