NEW YORK -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has reduced the suspension of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger from six to four games after the two met Friday morning.
Roethlisberger had initially been suspended in April for violating the league's personal conduct policy after being accused of sexual assault by a 20-year-old woman at a Georgia nightclub. Criminal charges were never filed.
Goodell had stated that Roethlisberger's punishment could be reduced if the two-time Super Bowl champion had followed league guidelines.
"You have told me and the Steelers that you are committed to making better decisions," Goodell said in a letter to Roethlisberger released by the NFL. "Your actions over the past several months have been consistent with that promise and you must continue to honor that commitment."
Roethlisberger was cleared to participate in preseason practices and games after completing an initial evaluation period. He will now miss the team's first four regular-season games and will be unable to participate in any practices with the team, or have any contact with coaches or other football operations personnel, until after the October 3 contest against Baltimore.
Since the Steelers have a bye the following week, Roethlisberger won't play in his first game of the 2010 campaign until October 17 against Cleveland. That will, however, give him two weeks of practice with team.
"Ben has done a good job this summer of growing as the person that he needs to be, both on and off the field," stated Steelers president Art Rooney II. "I am confident that Ben is committed to continuing in this positive direction. As a team, our focus is now on preparing for the regular season and getting off to a good start on opening weekend."
Roethlisberger was the first player suspended by the NFL under its personal conduct policy who was not charged with a crime. His reinstatement is still contingent upon staying out of trouble and his continuing to adhere to the program established by the league.
"I have learned a lot over the past several months about myself as a person," said Roethlisberger on Friday in a release issued by the Steelers. "I am committed to continuing on this path of being the type of person my family raised me to be, and exceeding what is expected of me as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers."
The alleged March 5 encounter in Georgia came in the wake of another similar allegation, one in which Roethlisberger faces a civil suit from a woman in Nevada who accused him of sexually assaulting her at a Lake Tahoe hotel in 2008. Criminal charges were not filed in that case either.