Ben Roethlisberger's Wife Ashley: 2019 Offseason Was 'Challenging' on Marriage

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2020

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during practice at NFL football training camp in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Navigating through the 2019 NFL offseason put a significant emotional strain on Ben and Ashley Roethlisberger. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is the subject of a new video series called Bigger Than Ben. The first episode was released on Wednesday and focused on the offseason in question:

"Last year's offseason was probably one of the most challenging offseasons that we've had in our marriage," Ashley said a little more than 50 seconds into the episode.

"Personally, there were definitely disappointments," she added. "Professionally, I understand criticism is part of the job; I get that. I wish it wasn't, but I get it. But last year seemed different."

In February 2019, Antonio Brown directed sharp criticism Roethlisberger's way, tweeting he had an "owner mentality" toward some of his teammates and coaches:

AB @AB84

No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect! He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can’t say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It’s a dirty game within a game. #truth https://t.co/MsSyBVd3Ny

Bad blood between Brown and Roethlisberger had been simmering for years. Rashard Mendenhall, who played for the Steelers for five seasons, weighed in on the situation one month later:

Rashard Mendenhall @R_Mendenhall

Alright, I’ll end the mystery... B’s racist and @AB84’s black. He had to catch balls from a racist quarterback. Every honest player knows it, it’s not a big deal. He was just supposed to take his lickings and move on, like a slave for real. https://t.co/ubI39UDauY

Rashard Mendenhall @R_Mendenhall

Clearly it’s no fun, when EVERYONE’s the accused... Please allow the dialogue in sports to be equal. Why’s it so easy to shoot at one player, but not the other? B’s not racist. Just like AB’s not a dirtbag. #letsbefair

The matter became a referendum on Roethlisberger's leadership. Former Steelers running back Josh Harris told Sports Illustrated's Robert Klemko in March 2019 the future Hall of Famer "doesn't try to connect with teammates."

In Bigger Than Ben, Roethlisberger said the drama "affected [Ashley] way more than me."

The issue appears to have been resolved. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported last September that Roethlisberger invited a number of teammates to his home to clear the air and understand their perspectives.

The 38-year-old is about to embark on yet another season as Pittsburgh's starting quarterback, and the Steelers are looking to return to the playoffs after missing out in 2018 and 2019.


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