Ashley Roethlisberger, wife of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger considers the 2019 offseason “the most challenging” the couple has endured in the NFL star’s 16-season career.
“Last year’s offseason was probably one of the most challenging offseasons that we’ve had in our marriage,” Ashley said Wednesday in the “Bigger Than Ben” docuseries. “Personally, there were disappointments. 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.”
Prior to the start of the 2019 season, Roethlisberger — who has been open about personal struggles — had a widely publicized falling out with former Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, who was later traded to the Oakland Raiders for a short-lived tenure. Roethlisberger then suffered detached tendons in his elbow during a Week 2 game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Ashley, who has been married to Roethlisberger since 2011, knew something was amiss with her husband when she received a call during the game.
“He never calls me during halftime when he’s playing,” Ashley said. “As soon as I saw the phone call, I realized that he wasn’t going to go back in the game.”
Roethlisberger, also mourning the death of wide receivers coach Darryl Drake, consulted team doctor Dr. Jim Bradley on the sideline, ultimately prohibiting the 6-foot-5 quarterback from re-entering the game.
“Right after the game, we went to go get an MRI immediately, and we got the call from Dr. Bradley. I remember him just saying, ‘I’m sorry, Ben, you ripped your flexors right off the bone,’” Ashley recalled.
Though Ashley told her husband that she would support him if he chose to hang up his cleats for good, Roethlisberger said, “Thank you, but I don’t feel done. I’m not done.”
While this year’s offseason has been different amid the coronavirus pandemic, Roethlisberger has remained a polarizing figure, due in part his fitness regimen and grooming.