MIAMI - JANUARY 03: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during a NFL game against the Miami Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Miami, Florida. (Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)
Emphasizing he committed no crime, Roethlisberger apologized Monday to his teammates and fans for his behavior last month in a Georgia bar, where a 20-year-old college student accused him of sexual assault. He also admitted he is disappointed with himself and promised to make the changes expected of him by the league and his team.
Roethlisberger was cleared of charges because a prosecutor says the case was not strong enough to pursue, but he was chastised by authorities and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his behavior.
In a short statement released by the team, Roethlisberger promised he will not put himself in such a situation again.
"The commissioner's decision to suspend me speaks clearly that more is expected of me. I am accountable for the consequences of my actions. Though I have committed no crime, I regret that I have fallen short of the values instilled in me by my family," Roethlisberger said in the statement. "I will not appeal the suspension and will comply with what is asked of me — and more."
In his first comments since being suspended Wednesday by Goodell, Roethlisberger said it will be "devastating" to miss games.
"I am sorry to let down my teammates and the entire Steelers fan base. I am disappointed that I have reached this point and will not put myself in this situation again," Roethlisberger said. "I appreciate the opportunities that I have been given in my life and will make the necessary improvements."
Roethlisberger is the first player suspended by Goodell under the conduct policy who hasn't been arrested or charged with a crime. Goodell said the league's conduct policy gave him the right to impose discipline regardless of whether Roethlisberger broke the law.
"In your six years in the NFL, you have first thrilled and now disappointed a great many people," Goodell wrote. "I urge you to take full advantage of this opportunity to get your life and career back on track."
The suspension can be reduced to four games if Roethlisberger completes an evaluation mandated by the league, any action that is mandated by that evaluation and he remains out of trouble. He can practice during training camp and play in preseason games, but cannot return to game action until at least Oct. 17.
Roethlisberger was not available Monday for further comment.