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:
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:
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.