One day after the Steelers' 2010 preseason finale on September 2, Roethlisberger received word from the league that his suspensions was being reduced from a possible six games to four. Big Ben returned to action for the team's October 17 game vs. the Browns in Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger would lead the Steelers to the Super Bowl, where Pittsburgh lost to Green Bay.
Big problems for Big Ben
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s downward spiral began in July 2009, when a civil suit was filed against him by Andrea McNulty, a Nevada woman who claimed Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her in a Lake Tahoe hotel room in June 2008. Roethlisberger denied the accusations and the lawsuit was settled on Jan. 20, 2012.
Roethlisberger’s situation worsened in March of 2010, when a 20-year-old woman again accused of him sexual assault at a nightclub in Milledgeville, Ga. The Steelers star, seen here addressing the media about the Georgia accusation, denied any wrongdoing.
Not enough evidence
After an investigation of the Georgia case, District Attorney Fred Bright decided April 12, 2010 that not enough evidence existed to pursue charges against Roethlisberger. Bright said "significant questions . . . persist" about what happened between Roethlisberger and the accuser.
Roethlisberger read a statement April 13, 2010 in the team locker room, saying Bright came to the “right conclusion” by not pursuing charges and said he was “truly sorry” for the negative attention he brought to teammates, fans and the organization.
Roethlisberger took no questions following his statement, and left the brief press conference facing many questions about his future with the Steelers and in the NFL in general. His personal life issues led to widespread speculation that Pittsburgh would attempt to trade him.
Steelers president Art Rooney II weighed in two days after Roethlisberger’s statement, saying the Steelers were prepared to discipline their quarterback in cooperation with the NFL. “We intend to allow Ben the opportunity to prove to us he is the teammate and citizen we all believe he is capable of being,” Rooney II said.
Back on the field
Roethlisberger was at Steelers practice on April 19, one week after he learned he wouldn’t be charged in the Georgia case. On the same day, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the quarterback violated the league’s personal-conduct policy with his “pattern of behavior” and “bad judgments.”
Who gets the ball?
In anticipation of losing Roethlisberger to suspension, the Steelers acquired Byron Leftwich from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on April 20. Leftwich joined a backup quarterback crew that includes Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch, seen here chatting with Roethlisberger.
They've got a beef
Just as Tiger Woods is dealing with lost sponsorships, Roethlisberger is facing similar fallout. A Pittsburgh company that markets food products endorsed by local sports stars ended its beef jerky sponsorship with Roethlisberger on April 14, 2010.
Take a seat
Official word of Roethlisberger’s punishment finally came on April 21, 2010. He was suspended six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, but with the possibility for it to be reduced or lengthened based both on any new information arising from the allegations and Roethlisberger’s future behavior.
Ready for a 'second chance'
Roethlisberger spoke publicly June 3, 2010 for the first time since the suspension came down. "I've put a lot of thought into my life, the decisions that I've made in the past," Roethlisberger said. "I'm looking forward to the second chance and the second opportunity."
More details come to light
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released evidence for the case June 9, 2010, including more than 50 audio and video recordings of interviews. During one interview, the accuser said she repeatedly told Roethlisberger, "I really don't think this is OK," as he approached her in the bar.
Back to work
Despite the suspension, Roethlisberger practiced with his Steelers teammates July 31, 2010. Wide receiver Hines Ward said the disgraced quarterback was working hard to better his image and his relationship with his teammates.
Happy to be back
Though he didn't play in the Steelers' 2010 preseason opener, Roethlisberger (pictured with backup QB Dennis Dixon) was welcomed warmly by the fans at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field in the team's preseason opener on August 14.