Big Ben gets a big ban

DAN BILICKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:36 PM ET

The clock has struck midnight on Big Ben.

Now the Pittsburgh Steelers have to deal with a massive pumpkin in its backfield.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has broken new ground by suspending Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, even though he was not charged with any crime resulting from his much-publicized bathroom antics with a young woman in Georgia.

“The Personal Conduct Policy makes clear that I may impose discipline ‘even where the conduct does not result in conviction of a crime’ as, for example, where the conduct ‘imposes inherent danger to the safety and well being of another person,’ ” Goodell stated in a letter to Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger will be banned for the first six games of the season and has been ordered to undergo a behavioural evaluation.

In fact, the commish has come down so hard on the two-time Super Bowl-winning QB, that he can’t even attend training camp, official team events, or participate in pre-season games, until he has gotten the OK from the league’s head office.

This leaves the Steelers with a big hole at the most key position on their depth chart.

To their credit, the team did see the writing on the wall and, earlier this week, acquired former backup Byron Leftwich from Tampa Bay.

Depending on how you feel about 2008 fifth-round pick Dennis Dixon’s potential or Leftwich’s ability to prove that he’s not as washed up as he looked playing for the Bucs last season, the opening stretch of the 2010 season will be a very tough one for Pittsburgh.

The only good news to come out of Wednesday’s suspension is that Goodell could consider reducing Roethlisberger’s sentence to four games, if the embattled Steeler passes his evaluation with flying colours.

The other end of that sword, though, is that if Goodell feels that Roethlisberger has not satisfactorily completed his rehab of sorts, the suspension could be even longer.

Also, read into this however you like, but, in perhaps another case of clairvoyance, the Steelers have extended Leftwich’s contract through 2011.

Could Big Ben, once a hero of blue-collar Steelers nation, be shipped out of town? Saying that it’s out of the question may be putting it lightly.

Don’t be surprised if Big Ben moves on draft day.

No T.O., McNabb reunion

Washington Redskins fans can breathe a big sigh of relief. Terrell Owens will not be joining them as his third NFC East team of his career.

After ESPN reported that new QB Donovan McNabb would be open to a reunion with the locker-room cancer/diva receiver, new Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was quick to quash that notion.

“No, we will not go in that direction right now,” Shanahan said when asked about looking into signing the free agent.

Last year with the Buffalo Bills, Owens cobbled together his worst statistical season since his rookie year, discounting 2005, when he was suspended by the Eagles for conduct detrimental to the team.

Owens openly feuded with McNabb back then — even berating the QB on the sidelines — leading to management taking the QB’s side and sending the all-pro receiver into football purgatory.

Even when you figure how bad the Redskins’ core of receivers is — Santana Moss and Devin Thomas led the team with three TDs apiece last season — bringing in someone who can tear apart your team is not the answer.

Jags deal Groves

Jacksonville has traded DE Quentin Groves, a second-rounder in 2008, to the Oakland Raiders for an undisclosed pick.

dan.bilicki@sunmedia.ca


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