NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he believes Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger realizes he's made some bad choices.
"I think Ben has a tremendous amount of remorse here," Goodell said. "I think he recognizes he made some bad decisions and things have to change. I think he wants to do that and needs some help to do that. We would like to support him so he can make better decisions going forward."
Goodell, who spoke to ESPN's Chris Berman before the NFL draft on Thursday, said the league did "a lot of work" before suspending Roethlisberger for six games on Wednesday for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. Goodell handed down the punishment a week after prosecutors decided not to charge Roethlisberger in a case involving a 20-year-old college student who accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Georgia nightclub in March.
"We did a lot of our own discussions, spoke to a lot of the people involved in the investigation down in Georgia," Goodell said. "Then you have to get counsel and perspective from a lot of different people and reach a conclusion you think is going to change the individual's behavior."
Roethlisberger is the first player suspended by Goodell under the conduct policy who hasn't been arrested or charged with a crime.
"My No.1 responsibility as commissioner is the integrity of the game and I have to protect that integrity," Goodell said. "It's for the players, the coaches, everyone in our league, including the fans. I take that very seriously."
Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl winner and the highest-paid player in franchise history with a $102 million contract, also is being sued in a civil case by a Nevada hotel employee who has accused him of sexually assaulting her in 2008.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.