For a quarterback who played his last NFL game in Jan. 2022, former Pittsburgh Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger has been making a lot of news today. In an afternoon radio interview on 105.9 The X, Roethlisberger told Mark Madden that the San Francisco 49ers called him last year to gauge his interest in coming out of retirement. And, on the March 21, 2023, edition of Footbahlin With Ben Roethlisberger, he revealed an off-the-field accident that effectively made him a game-time decision in Super Bowl XLV.
A Shuffleboard Accident in Dallas
“My financial advisor rented a house down in Dallas,” recounted Roethlisberger, referring to the site of Super Bowl XLV, which was held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“So our family was there, agents, everybody was in this house just hanging out when we had free time. It was an amazing, beautiful house — had a shuffleboard table, ping pong table, pool table, all this stuff. So we were just hanging out and there was a hardwood floor and we took our shoes off out of respect for the house and we were playing shuffleboard. We would throw the shuffleboard down and we would run down and slide across the wood floor … being silly. As I slid across the floor a piece of wood shank about this [a few inches] long broke off into the middle of the bottom of my foot.”
Roethlisberger, who was about to play in his third Super Bowl in five years, knew right away it was a serious problem.
“It was in there so deep I had to go see the trainers and the doctors to get it out,” Roethlisberger explained. “It wasn’t like one piece and it came out, there were little pieces of wood in there. It was awful. It was one of the most painful things I have ever had to deal with. We soaked my foot, we did everything. I wore a bigger size shoe…. Doc couldn’t shoot it up because if your foot goes numb you are done.”
When game time came, Roethlisberger said his ability to start remained very much in doubt.
“That was one of the most painful things. I remember going though warmups, almost looking at Mike [Tomlin], like, ‘I don’t know that I can play.’”
Ben Roethlisbegrer: ‘Y’all Don’t Know What I Went Through’
Worse yet, it turned out to be a lingering problem, according to Roethlisberger.
“I had shards in there for almost a year later,” he added. “People think I was this diva and talked about all my injuries, but no, y’all don’t know what I went through. It was so bad. I was in so much pain before the game. I was like, ‘I can’t move. Am I going to hurt the team by playing?’ It was one of the most horrible things I ever experienced.”
Of course, Roethlisberger did end up starting the game and the Steelers fell into a 21-3 hole before rallying, only to have a Rashard Mendenhall fumble derail a valiant comeback effort. In the end, the Steelers lost 31-25, making Super Bowl XLV the only SB victory for longtime Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.