The silence became even more conspicuous on Wednesday night, when chairman Dan Rooney was asked about the situation at a press conference prior to receiving the Citizen of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO at a dinner in Pittsburgh.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Rooney acknowledged that it is a “serious matter,” and that he believes
the situation is being “handled properly” by team president Art Rooney (Dan’s son), coach Mike
Tomlin, and director of football operations Kevin Colbert.
Here’s the kicker — asked whether the Steelers organization supports
Roethlisberger, Rooney said, “I’m not making any comment on that.”
That’s perhaps the most ominous statement we’ve seen regarding Roethlisberger’s status. If Rooney isn’t willing to assert express support for a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, it means that the organization quite possibly is in the process of moving on. So even if the Steelers haven’t initiated trade talks, the Bills, Jaguars, Broncos, Raiders, Panthers, Cardinals, Seahawks, Rams, and 49ers should be burning up the phone lines to the 412 area code.
Meanwhile, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who attended the event, said that he will make a decision in the near future regarding Roethlisberger, according to the Associated Press.
“I think he understands how important the Personal Conduct Policy is
to the NFL,” Goodell told the AP. “And I hope he has a better understanding of how
important it is for everybody in the league.”
As to the specific status of the situation, Goodell said, “We’ll continue to
gather more information. We’ll continue to have that analysis done, and
we’ll consider it and make a decision in the near future. We like to be
thorough. We like to be sure we fully understand it. We’ve talked to,
obviously, the player. We’ll talk to the [NFLPA]. I think
anytime you can get more input into the various factors that are going
on, the better decision you’ll make.”
Even though Roethlisberger was cleared of any potential criminal charges on Monday, the momentum against him seems to be building. A suspension now appears to be a given. Though something dramatic, like a trade, remains unlikely, it’s a possibility that can’t be disregarded.