Fans in Pittsburgh waited for the proverbial second shoe to drop for quite awhile. On Wednesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finally kicked it off and handed down a six-game suspension for Ben Roethlisberger’s off-field transgressions. The league’s personal conduct policy offers Goodell a great deal of leeway in protecting the multi-billion dollar NFL shield. He certainly made a statement with this suspension.

The Steelers made a move ahead of the decision, bringing back veteran quarterback Byron Leftwich to compete for a role with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch. Did the Steelers anticipate such a lengthy suspension? Perhaps not, there was a pretty good idea that Roethlisberger wasn’t getting a slap on the wrist when Goodell talked of the quarterback’s violation of the league’s policy during a radio appearance with Dan Patrick on Tuesday.

There’s a chance that Roethlisberger’s suspension can be reduced to four games if he reaches certain conditions and his counselor’s sign off. Interestingly, the Steelers have a Bye in Week 5 following a date with the division-rival Ravens. Conspiracy theorists are running wild.

The NFL fan base and society at large are divided on the issue, most certainly. On one hand, there’s the sentiment that since Roethlisberger was not convicted of a crime, that no suspension is warranted. Then, there are those who cite the preponderance of evidence that paints a very dismal, sad and horrifying picture of what happened in Georgia as cause to suspend Roethlisberger indefinitely.

I understand the outrage of those who look at the details of the allegations and point to a pattern of abhorrent behavior. I don’t understand the “no charges, no punishment” faction. Some separation between the barbarism and aggression on the field and the larger society must be maintained, right?

In the end, there’s a responsibility to the league, its fans and its partners that must be considered. There’s a lot at stake for everyone involved, from the owners to broadcast partners, fans who shell out hard-earned cash for tickets and merchandiser and the myriad producers of said merchandise. Roger Goodell is protecting the integrity of his brand while keeping this seemingly unstoppable force on course for continued growth.

Wouldn’t you expect your boss to do the same? Wouldn’t you fight to protect your business?