Ben Roethlisberger: A History of a Pittsburgh Quarterback's Troubles
For all his talent, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has put together an equally unimpressive resume of off-field issues that have disgraced one of the proudest franchises in NFL history.
Camera phones have not been Big Ben's friend, capturing him in some late-night hazes. The troubles started with a motorcycle and have continued with allegations of partying, gambling, and sexual assaults.
Let's take a look at where it all began and how Big Ben became such a late-night TV joke.
The Motorcycle Accident
Four months after becoming the toast of the NFL as the youngest Super Bowl-winning quarterback in history, Roethlisberger made his first appearance in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Big Ben flew over the handlebars of his 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa. The QB suffered a broken upper and lower jaw and a broken nose, along with multiple deep cuts to the face.
It was later discovered that Roethlisberger was not wearing a helmet and that he didn't have a valid state license, as his temporary permit had expired two months earlier.
The accident leads to a thorough overhaul of pro athletes' off-field contact contract clauses.
Roethlisberger was seen all over Sin City celebrating his 27th birthday in raucous style in March of 2009.
Casino employees reported heavy gambling and partying, and Big Ben was spotted at the Tao nightclub and The Playboy Club at The Palms with his buddies.
The First Alleged Sexcapade
July 20, 2009: A Harrah's Lake Tahoe employee, Andrea McNulty, filed a civil suit against Big Ben, claiming that Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her at the casino in July of 2008.
According to her lawsuit, the Steelers QB asked her to his hotel room to fix his TV, blocked the room exit, and then assaulted her.
McNulty is asking for at least $440,000 from Roethlisberger and another $50,000 from Harrah's for allegedly defaming her and trying to cover up the assault.
Roethlisberger has denied the allegations.
Big Ben Called a
Nov. 22, 2009: Roethlisberger took a knee to the helmet in a Week 11 overtime loss to Kansas City. It was the fourth concussion of his career.
After a week of "will he or won't he?" leading up to a crucial Week 12 divisional matchup against Baltimore, Roethlisberger sat out the game and Dennis Dixon made his first-ever NFL start.
Dixon nearly led the Steelers to a win, only to fall in overtime once again, 20-17.
Locker room scuttlebutt erupted before the game as Hines Ward and other anonymous teammates questioned Big Ben's manhood for sitting out the game.
Head coach Mike Tomlin took the heat, saying it was his call in concert with team doctors and that Big Ben wanted to play. Nonetheless, the sight of him in pads all game long doesn't help the softness rumors.
Roethlisberger returned Week 13 only to lead Pittsburgh to two more embarrassing losses to Oakland and Cleveland.
Big Ben led the team to three straight wins to end the regular season, but it was too late. The Steelers missed the playoffs.
What Happens in Milledgeville ...
If you've ever been to Milledgeville, it's easy to understand how Big Ben was lonely. But seriously?
On March 5, 2010, allegations arose that Roethlisberger sexually assaulted a college co-ed in a bar bathroom.
Roethlisberger didn't deny that he and the woman, reportedly a student at the nearby Georgia College and State University, had relations. Through his attorney, Big Ben said it was a mutual consummation of attractions after a night of partying.
Former Ray Lewis attorney Ed Garland was called in to play the equivalent of Harvey Keitel's "The Wolf" clean-up character in "Pulp Fiction."
Bullet Dodged...Sort Of
District Attorney Fred Bright made the announcement Monday that Roethlisberger will not face charges for the alleged Milledgeville assault.
"We do not prosecute morals. We prosecute crimes," Bright said.
The NFL? Well, that's a different story. Commissioner Roger Goodell will reportedly meet with Big Ben later this week. It's hard to imagine Roethlisberger skirting some kind of breach of the commish's iron-clad personal conduct policy.