Jun 15, 2010

Steelers' Art Rooney II pleased with Ben Roethlisberger's attitude since return

Steelers team president Art Rooney II said he's been pleased with Ben Roethlisberger's performance and attitude since commissioner Roger Goodell cleared the QB to return to team activities on June 1.

Rooney, in an interview with Steelers.com, said Roethlisberger still has a long way to go to earn back the trust of fans and others, but he believes he has a good head start on rebuilding his life.

"I think Ben came back with a bit of a new attitude," Rooney said of Roethlisberger's return to the team on June 1, "and certainly you could start to see some changes in him. So I was pleased with the way the first week back went."

Last week Roethlisberger apologized for "dumb" and "immature" behavior that led to his six-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy. He was accused of sexual assault by a 20-year-old Georgia woman in March, but no charges were filed. Roethlisberger has since entered a behavioral evaluation program ordered as part of his suspension.

Rooney, who expressed disappointment in Roethlisberger in the wake of the suspension, said he was satisfied that Roethlisberger is making a good-faith effort to become a better person. Goodell stressed when he issued the suspension that part of the goal was to change Roethlisberger's behavior, and Rooney said he thinks the QB got the message:

"I think Ben's response to it has been good. He's gone through the evaluation. He's committed to doing the things that the commissioner has asked him to do. We've got a way to go. It's up to Ben now to make sure he does what's right. And I think he truly wants to do what is necessary to earn back the fans' trust and respect. But I think that he knows that he's not going to do that in one or two interviews. He's only going to do that by his actions over the next weeks and months."

Rooney said many Steelers fans wrote to the team to express their displeasure in Roethlisberger this spring. But he added that "at this point people are starting to understand that Ben is trying to make a commitment to make the changes that he needs to make."

-- Sean Leahy