According to sources, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger plans to ask NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to reduce his six-game suspension by at least three games when they meet Friday. While his asking for a reduction of the suspension should come as no surprise, the number of games he's asking to be taken off and the tactics he is using just might.
It's long been believed that Goodell would eventually grant Roethlisberger a two-game reduction on the suspension, but I don't think anyone believed he'd be playing before the fifth game of the season. Apparently, Roethlisberger and his attorney hope so, and it seems another surprising individual does as well. Steelers team president Arthur J. Rooney will reportedly accompany Big Ben to the meeting to support the QB's case.
Obviously that comes across as a purely franchise-driven move, since Roethlisberger by far gives Pittsburgh the best chance at winning. However, it's rather surprising considering that Rooney released a statement at the original time of the suspension, supporting Goodell's decision.
While Big Ben and the Steelers are pulling out all the stops in order to get him back on the field, it seems unlikely that Goodell will reduce the suspension by more than two games, as he's said all along that he wouldn't. If Goodell wants his conduct policy to be taken seriously, then he should probably stick to his guns on this one.
I'm all for cutting a guy a break if he messes up once, but Roethlisberger has a history of doing dumb things. Personally, I wouldn't be upset if Goodell upheld the entire six-game suspension, and sent the Steelers' representatives home with their tails between their legs for having the audacity to ask for such a dramatic reduction.
Whatever the decision that's made, you can be sure that its repercussions will have a great influence not only on the Steelers' season, but also how Goodell and his conduct policy are perceived going forward.