Big Ben can return to Steelers next week

Roger Goodell has seen enough in the early stages of Ben Roethlisberger’s behavioral evaluation to grant the quarterback permission to re-join the Steelers next week. However, Goodell still hasn’t decided whether or not to reduce Big Ben’s suspension from six to four games.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“Based on the reports and recommendations of our medical experts, commissioner Goodell advised the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger [Thursday] that he is cleared to return to team activities beginning next week,” The NFL said in a statement. “The commissioner will continue to monitor Roethlisberger’s progress as he begins the next phase of his recommended plan and will meet with Roethlisberger again at the appropriate time.

“There has been no decision on any modification to the length of Roethlisberger’s suspension. In his April 21 disciplinary decision, commissioner Goodell announced that Roethlisberger is suspended without pay for the first six games of the regular season. The commissioner said he would review Roethlisberger’s progress prior to the start of the regular season and consider whether to reduce the suspension to four games. Failure to cooperate and follow his plan could result in a longer suspension,” the statement concluded.

It’ll be interesting to see what the reaction of Roethlisberger’s teammates will be when he returns next week. Usually teammates are very accepting of someone after they’ve gone through an ordeal or a suspension. But players like Hines Ward have been vocal about how Big Ben has let the team down, so I’m curious to see whether or not it’ll be business as usual in Pittsburgh next week.

Of course, even if his teammates are displeased with Roethlisberger and his actions over the past two years, he’s still their quarterback. He helps them win games and usually, players can separate what a guy does off the field from what he does on it. So chances are that his teammates will say all the right things to the media and try to not let his issues become a bigger distraction than it already is.

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