NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said today he plans to further investigate, analyze and discuss Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's conduct before he renders a decision in "the near future" on whether to punish him.
Goodell didn't tip his hand Wednesday night, moments before joining a banquet to honor Steelers patriarch Dan Rooney, who was receiving the AFL-CIO's Pennsylvania Citizen of the Year award at the Westin Downtown.
However, Goodell noted that after meeting with the Steelers' star quarterback at the NFL's New York offices Tuesday, he hoped Roethlisberger better grasped the gravity of the conduct code across the league.
"We met for a couple of hours. We had a good discussion," Mr. Goodell said of the three-hour meeting one day after the local district attorney announced that he wasn't going to file charges in a Milledgeville, Ga., bar incident investigated as a sexual assault.
"I think he understands how important the personal-conduct policy is to the NFL. And I hope he has a better understanding of how important it is for everybody in the league.
"We'll continue to gather more information. We'll continue to have that analysis done. And we'll consider it, and we'll make a decision in the near future. I don't know if I'd say there's a normal time [period]. 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 Players Association. I think anytime you can get more input into the various factors that are going on, the better decision you'll make.
"What you've got to do is, understand that we have a very high standard of conduct for everybody involved with the NFL, whether it's a player, a coach or the Commissioner. And that we all are all held to that high standard. It's something that I believe in firmly. We owe that to our fans. We owe that to our partners. And it's something we'll continue to reinforce."
Goodell declined to discuss what type of penalty he is considering.
In an earlier press conference before the dinner, Rooney declined to publicly discuss the "serious matter" surrounding Roethlisberger.
He offered simply, "Everybody makes mistakes.
"My job is in Ireland," added Rooney, now the U.S. ambassador to that country, indicating that the team in his absence is run by his son, president Art Rooney II, along with coach Mike Tomlin and director of player personnel Kevin Colbert.
"I would just say that it's a serious matter. And it's being handled properly with Art, Mike and Kevin Colbert. I think they're handling it very well. The Commissioner as you know saw Ben [in New York Tuesday]. I don't have any more to say."
Asked about the general behavior his family expects of Steelers, Rooney -- standing with state AFL-CIO officers, his son, Jim, and Steelers backup quarterback Charlie Batch -- said: "I think the players have to be special. And we have a special man here in Charlie, what he's done, what his foundation does as far as children in this community is exemplary. That's the way it should be. Everybody makes mistakes. But I don't even want to talk about that."