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The real story on the Roethlisberger scratch

BenRoethlisberger.jpgAs seemingly every reporter had the chapter-and-verse details of the events that led to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being scratched from Sunday night’s game against the Ravens, something was gnawing at us.

Why would the notoriously tight-lipped Steelers suddenly be so loquacious regarding the mechanics of the decision to shut down their starting quarterback for a critical regular-season contest against the Baltimore Ravens?

In contrast, the Arizona Cardinals managed to keep tightly under wraps until early Sunday afternoon the status of quarterback Kurt Warner.

But as to the Steelers, everyone had by Sunday morning the story of Roethlisberger experiencing exercise-induced headaches during practice on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and of the independent neurologist declining to clear Roethlisberger to play — even though he was still listed as the emergency quarterback.

As it turns out, the story that had been pushed by the team wasn’t the entire truth.

We’re told that the decision to go with Dennis Dixon instead of Roethlisberger came early in the week, and that it came directly from coach Mike Tomlin.  It wasn’t a benching in the classic sense; as we hear it, Tomlin feared that Roethlisberger — who in Tomlin’s estimation holds the ball way too long — would take another blow to the head against a tenacious Ravens defense, which surely would have treated that white seven in the yellow stripe of Ben’s helmet like the red dot in the middle of a dart board. 

So the call was made to get Dixon ready.  Though Roethlisberger might have indeed been suffering from post-practice headaches, the notion that a neurologist didn’t clear Roethlisberger to play was cover for a coaching decision to give him a week off.

That helps explains why Roethlisberger served as the emergency quarterback.  Though Tomlin claimed that, if Dixon and Tyler Palko had been injured, Roethlisberger would have entered the game only to hand the ball off, he still could have taken another blow to the head if, for example, the running back had fumbled the ball and Ben opted to dive for it.

We don’t expect the Steelers to publicly concede that this was, in reality, a coaching decision.  After all, the Steelers are very secretive about matters of this nature.

But as players like receiver Hines Ward are now publicly questioning Roethlisberger’s toughness, Tomlin might have to come clean in the locker room, in order to ensure that Ben will still be an effective leader of his teammates.
 

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43 Responses to “The real story on the Roethlisberger scratch”
  1. bluestree says: Nov 30, 2009 9:17 AM

    Steelers should have been up front about this. Players won’t protect themselves, I applaud Tomlin for his decision to look out for Ben.

  2. floriohatestheravens says: Nov 30, 2009 9:19 AM

    Nice story Florio, too bad the FACTS get in the way of this theory….
    If they ruled him out early in the week, then tell me WHY BEN PRACTICED EVERY DAY!?!? You would think if that were the case they would have given Dixon EVERY possible rep he could get in advance of this game, especially considering he has NEVER practiced with the 1st string with the probable exception being training camp. I would have a HARD TIME believing Ben practiced to fool the Ravens, as the Steelers are too smart for that.
    There is NO WAY this was a coaching decision, because if it was I lost alot of respect for Tomlin

  3. shinsnake says: Nov 30, 2009 9:20 AM

    So then either the media lied that Roethlisberger taking all the practice snaps away from Dixon or this story is more manufactured than a halftime swing by a wide receiver at a head coach during a playoff game where your heated rivals just swept the leg (knee) of your star QB.
    Otherwise, why not feed Dixon all the snaps in practice? And since Ben took all the snaps, would Dixon have been any less prepared if he had to come in after another Roethlisberger hit? And if you were worried about Roethlisberger having another concussion, would you really keep him practicing after he experienced exertion headaches? Yeah, your story has more missing data than a global warming temperature report.

  4. Tomthebombtracy says: Nov 30, 2009 9:21 AM

    That may also explain why they waited to the last minute to announce anything….to give the Ravens less time to prep for Dixon and for Dixon to have less time under the media microscope and the attendant pressure.

  5. Joe in Toronto, Canada says: Nov 30, 2009 9:23 AM

    I agree, Mike, it’s the only possible explanation I can think of.
    If he wasn’t cleared to play, he wouldn’t be suited up at all, plain and simple.

  6. thekillerkeller says: Nov 30, 2009 9:23 AM

    Hines Ward is the new T.O…need I say more?

  7. Scrip Club Lover says: Nov 30, 2009 9:23 AM

    Hines Ward is a fool. Roethlisberger has earned the right to take a week off if there’s a chance that another hit to the noggin could end his career.

  8. 8man says: Nov 30, 2009 9:26 AM

    Makes sense. Dixon played too well for someone who just found out he was going to play on Friday night.
    And honestly, I think he did a better job than Rapelisberger would have.

  9. KennyPowers says: Nov 30, 2009 9:28 AM

    Seems like overanalysis to me, but interesting nonetheless. The Ravens ARE probably the dirtiest team in the league and I could seem them intentionally doing something to cause further injury to Ben, given the opportunity.
    After all Ben’s been through, I can’t believe anyone would be questioning his toughness. This coming from someone who absolutely loathes the Steelers.

  10. Steeler-lady says: Nov 30, 2009 9:28 AM

    Well I didnt think Hines was questioning Bens toughness..As we all know the hits this guy has endured and still kept going..I felt Hines was confused just like the rest of us.But i guess to someone who has nothing else to write about would come up with this scenario..
    We didnt lose that game cus of Ben not playing…We didnt lose because of Dixon playing.. we lost because of AIRHEAD ARIANS ..MORON that he is.
    Didnt help the D letting them move the ball on them or Harrison bein raped most of the night..LOL

  11. mwiles19 says: Nov 30, 2009 9:42 AM

    Its pretty common knowledge in Pittsburgh that Ben isn’t very well liked by teammates to begin with, so this just adds to it.

  12. Ravens Fan says: Nov 30, 2009 9:44 AM

    Lets face it, the Squeelers would have lost even if Roethlishomo is in the game. The mighty Ravens prepared for Roethlishomo, not Dixon. By the second half the Ravens knew Dixon was a poser, and in OT Dixon showed his true colors. Now Heinze “Ketchup” Ward is mouthing off about his QB calling out his man hood. Roethlishomo is a p*ssy, and should have played. He let his team down. Can’t wait until the end of the season when the Pissburgh Squeelers are home watching the Ravens in the playoffs.

  13. Wick says: Nov 30, 2009 9:44 AM

    Even granting that this “version of the truth” is “the real story” — it was foolhardy as all hell in its conception.
    (1) have starting QB practice fully for the week before a key game;
    (2) have starting QB go public on and on about how he’s passed a documented 34 out of 34 neurological tests “with flying colors”;
    (3) have starting QB then go public right about at the even of the game to describe how he has headaches when no one is around and is fearful of getting hit in the Ravens game (all while the League is feeling Congressional heat to treat concussions like stage 4 pancreatic cancer);
    (4) claim QB – who publicly expressed fear of playing – is being sat down by an independent neurologists;
    (5) go into key Ravens game with a young third string QB who’s thrown 1 pass in his NFL career and about 2 years of college experience before that; and
    (6) then expect NFL team to not notice their best offensive player does not want to go to battle with them —– despite players fighting through injuries in football since Pop Warner football.
    Not a very long-sighted plan, IF it was the real story.

  14. Flvikesfan says: Nov 30, 2009 9:48 AM

    Whatever the reason Roethlisberger sat out last night’s game turns out to be, it doesn’t change the fact that Hines Ward is a complete DOUCHE BAG!!! The people he plays against hate him because of his p*ssy cheap shots and he publicly calls out his own QB for being injured. I hope when the Steelers play the Ravens again right after x-mas Ward has to face the old Ray Lewis, you know the guy who use to stab bitches who disrespected him. No I don’t want to see Ward stabbed, I do want to see Ray Ray put the crown of his helmet into the ear hole of Wards helmet and watch Ward flop around on the ground like he is being tasered. The game gets held up for 20 minutes while they strap him down and cart him off the field. Then the following week he can stand before the cameras and apologize to Big Ben for not being able to play against Miami because he is still having headaches and peeing himself a little. That would be a pretty good x-mas present, better than that piece of crap footbath massager thing I got last year. I mean really who the hell gives a man a footbath machine?? Hines Ward you suck as a human!!!!
    Super Bowl XLIV Vikings – Colts; it’s OK we’ll make room for you on the Vikings bandwagon!!

  15. 69ers says: Nov 30, 2009 9:57 AM

    Love Ward, but Wines Hard isn’t helping the situation. Frustration after a loss? Probably.Dixon played well considering the situation. It was simply another let down by the Defense (w/o Troy).

  16. Phokus says: Nov 30, 2009 10:03 AM

    Hines Ward questions Rapelisberger’s toughness because he’s a known drama queen and wuss.
    Remember the 2004 AFC Championship game where Ben claimed to have broken toes and Cowher rebuffed him?

  17. thepittsburghkid says: Nov 30, 2009 10:09 AM

    I really think all you Steeler haters out there need to find a common slur for Roethlisberger. I’m pretty unimpressed with your efforts.
    I dont care what the story is, winning in baltimore healthy rarely happens.

  18. trjuxal says: Nov 30, 2009 10:13 AM

    “Lets face it, the Squeelers would have lost even if Roethlishomo is in the game. ”
    My god you have GOT to be kidding me. The Ravens BARELY beat a 3rd string QB who never played in the NFL and this is the shit we have to read from you dumb asses?? If Ben would have played, the Ravens lose BIG. They ran for over 150 yards on your asses, and that was with NO passing game. Try again, douche.

  19. oruacat2 says: Nov 30, 2009 10:15 AM

    I wonder if the fact that one of the more publicized victims of too-many-concussions is a former Steeler great (Mike Webster) makes the organization more skittish than it might otherwise be?
    KD

  20. Ravens Fan says: Nov 30, 2009 10:29 AM

    “If Ben would have played, the Ravens lose BIG.”
    What are you smoking jackass? The Ravens prepared for p*ssy boy not Dixon. Read the rest of my post idiot. Get you head out of Roethlishomo’s ass, douchbag. The Squeelers have lost 6 of the last 7 in Bmore. That’s the facts. Your Squeelers are not good. They lost to KC with your Raplisberger (I love that one) in the game. I mean damn, take those urine colored glasses off.

  21. WhoPlaysWhere says: Nov 30, 2009 10:30 AM

    Either way, “big” Ben should of played. As much as I despise Hines Ward for the idiot he is, Ben should of sacked up, put the big boy pants on and played int he game. This might be there season. With a patsy schedule for some of the other wild card contenders, P-Burgh better run the table with five straight and do alot of praying.
    If this was Super Bowl, would be of played? If he isnt playing like every week is the Super Bowl with their playoff chances slipping through their fingers, maybe Dennis Dixon should get more and more snaps as the weeks go on. It will only be a matter of time before Ben gives up all together.
    An for the love of all that is skinny, Ben please put the Ho-Ho’s down man. Your life isn’t one big eating contest.

  22. Robert says: Nov 30, 2009 10:43 AM

    lets just keep it real.
    the steelers will rip up the next couple teams setting up a ravens steelers game in pittsburgh for a playoff spot where ben and troy will be peaking, defense will be flyin around and the ravens will shit the bed like usual w/ the playoffs on the line.
    thanks.

  23. Rev. Dr. HollywoodWags says: Nov 30, 2009 10:46 AM

    Man, that made so much sense.
    Almost as if a freaking lawyer wrote it, a bad lawyer from Hillbilly, WV.

  24. shawnc16 says: Nov 30, 2009 11:10 AM

    floriohatestheravens says:
    November 30, 2009 9:19 AM
    Nice story Florio, too bad the FACTS get in the way of this theory….
    There is NO WAY this was a coaching decision, because if it was I lost alot of respect for Tomlin
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    So you believe that Ben was not medically cleared to play but could still suit up to be the 3rd QB? So the doctors said sorry he can’t start but he can play if the first 2 QBs get hurt. The FACT that Ben was the 3rd QB sort of gets in the way of your theory.

  25. Deb says: Nov 30, 2009 11:25 AM

    I almost hate to weigh in on this since that’s your purpose for continuing to beat this dead horse.
    Whoever made the decision to sit Ben after a concussion–the same decision made for Warner after he insisted he would play–has more wisdom and intelligence than the gossip-mongers and loopty-loops ranting about it.
    OBVIOUSLY, in hindsight, Dennis Dixon was well-prepared. No matter how they want to frame it, the Ravens won off an interception in overtime. Though I congratulate their tenacity, that’s hardly a crushing victory. Bruce Arians called a terrific game this time around. It was the defense, not the offense, that let us down.
    @Phokus … All I remember about the 2004 season is a rookie QB coming off the bench after Maddox was injured and winning more games than any other rookie QB before him. You’ve posted your silly toe rant on every article about Ben. That bizarre repetition makes me wonder if YOU’VE suffered a brain injury.

  26. Flying elvis says: Nov 30, 2009 11:25 AM

    Ward just wants the old Ben back. The one who would go out on his busa with no helmet, because it’s more cool that way.

  27. Holeinone09 says: Nov 30, 2009 11:38 AM

    If it truly was a coaching decision made earlier in the week, then I can’t understand why the entire team wasn’t told that, which makes Ward’s comments even more outrageous. If it was a coaching decision made earlier in the week and the entire team was not told, then the coaches are idiots. If they were told, Ward is a bigger jackass in this case than I even think he was.
    As a Steeler fan, I love Ward as a player, but he made a huge mistake in saying what he said, no matter what they were told or the circumstances. You absolutely cannot question the heart of Ben after the poundings he has taken over the years, and what he has meant to the team. No way this kind of stuff should gone public. Ward flat out made a huge mistake.
    Fact is, the Steelers should not have been in any position to there even be an issue about Ben playing or not. They lost to pushovers Bears and Chiefs, which was their own fault. Nobody should even be able to play the next game after a concussion, it should be an automatic sit-out, and Ben certainly deserved to have the game off without being criticized, by his own teammate no less.
    Get real people. If it was YOU that had a concussion and were experiencing headaches, you would be worrying your ass off. Sheesh!

  28. St33ler1 says: Nov 30, 2009 11:42 AM

    The whole problem is the Coaching starting with Tomlin—Arians and the special teams coach should have been gone long ago. Tomlin is not much of a Coach for not firing them. The same mistakes week after week happening. Good Coaching should straighten these problems out not let them continue week after week. None of the Top Coaches with top teams have this happening week after week. We have maybe a more talented team than we had last year and look what’s happening ????? I believe there is no discipline with Tomlin and how about all the poor play calling and where are the special teams ??????

  29. BoMeister says: Nov 30, 2009 12:38 PM

    Mike:
    When did Hines “Smokey Robinson” Ward make a public statement questioning Ben’s toughness? I am no Squeelers fan, just want to have the correct facts.
    Thanks!

  30. paranoidandroid says: Nov 30, 2009 12:44 PM

    I think as a kid who grew up playing a lot of sports you kind of figure that some things can be shrugged off. Playing h.s. soccer my senior I got a concussion, but kept playing. At half time I told a trainer that I had blindspots in front of me and in the corners of my eyes. I didn’t know, and apparently the trainers didn’t either, anything about concussions. I kept playing without knowing the risks involved. One concussion can cause damage but repeated concussions can be fatal. Football is great and all but it is not worth someones life. I read somewhere that for a lineman an nfl game is like getting into a car wreck every play.
    I applaud Tomlin for not only sitting Ben, but looking out for his long-term health. Same for Warner in AZ.

  31. Beezer says: Nov 30, 2009 12:49 PM

    Classic Florio trying to cover for your teams QB. Now had Romo, Eli, McNabb, or another QB went through this same scenario you would be ripping them apart. You are such a homer. How about criticizing Ward for calling out his QB? Of course not you will probably write an article giving him credit for being honest.

  32. Fear Da Tiger says: Nov 30, 2009 12:54 PM

    Yeah thepittsburghkid…it’s REALLY tough to win in Baltimore. And in Pittsburgh. Unless you’re the Bengals :) I’m glad the Ravens took them out last night. Now both teams are a virtual 3 games back with 5 to play = Bengals magic number is 3 to win the AFC North!

  33. HamBurghlar says: Nov 30, 2009 1:07 PM

    Flvikesfan: Bitter much? Sorry the Steelers “ruined” your perfect season, but hey, they were the better team that day. No need to wish your pissy hate towards Hines getting hurt. Play nice, you’ll just lose in the playoffs like those AWESOME Tennessee Titans last year.. Bye.
    And RavensFan, shhhhhhh… Your doucheyness is too loud, turn it down. You can have that game, we’ll take the one in Pittsburgh, and the one for the wild card just as usual when you shit the bed (quoting earlier post). Ben could/should have played, but Dixon did about as well as any “rookie” QB starting his first game in hostile territory. The D didn’t hold up their end yesterday, but that’ll come back to us. I’m just glad RAY RAY didn’t stab him, that would have been bad. Love your funny and original changing of Ben’s last name! What is Raplisberger? At least spell rape right, you illiterate choad.

  34. trjuxal says: Nov 30, 2009 1:11 PM

    “What are you smoking jackass? The Ravens prepared for p*ssy boy not Dixon. Read the rest of my post idiot. Get you head out of Roethlishomo’s ass, douchbag. ”
    Yea, the same Ben that beat your asses three times last season. Right? Nice comeback, you moron. You barely beat a QB who never even palyed in the NFL. How’s that sitting with you? Try making all the excuses you want. Shit, we were without our TWO best players and still went to OT with your shit team.

  35. nflqb says: Nov 30, 2009 1:21 PM

    dixon was awful and did not look like an nfl qb, end of story!

  36. trjuxal says: Nov 30, 2009 1:24 PM

    “The Squeelers have lost 6 of the last 7 in Bmore.”
    Umm, the Steelers have beaten the Ravens 7 out 0f the last 8 in Pittsburgh and have beaten the Ravens four out of the last six games total. What do you want to argue next? How a 3rd string QB took you to OT? Saying Ben would have done “worse” is fu*king hysterical, expecially considering you haven’t beaten him since 2006. Yea, that’s right….the Ravens have not beaten Ben Roethlisberger since 2006. He didn’t start the 2nd game in late 2007 because he was resting for the playoffs. Oh…you didn’t see the playoffs that year. Oooops! So, go ahead and try to convince all of us with your divine wisdom how Ben would of lost if he started last night when he hasn’t lost to you in 3 fu*king years.

  37. Steelersfantasy says: Nov 30, 2009 1:37 PM

    Steelers Fans (HamBurghlar, trjuxal) are so predictable. If anyone says anything critical about the team, True or Not, they start crying like a little girl who had their doll stolen.

  38. 62yrs4steelers says: Nov 30, 2009 2:37 PM

    Facts for Steeler fans:
    The “O” line is awful, I’m 62 and could get past “cinder blocks feet” Starks to the QB.
    The defense is average without Troy and Aaron, they make the other players better.
    How do opposing QB’s read the Steeler defense,”where is William Gay?”
    Ike Taylor has Super Bowl hangover.
    Brett Keisel and Ryan Clark are Men among men.

  39. 62yrs4steelers says: Nov 30, 2009 2:40 PM

    Facts for Steeler fans:
    The “O” line is awful, I’m 62 and could get past “cinder blocks feet” Starks to the QB.
    The defense is average without Troy and Aaron, they make the other players better.
    How do opposing QB’s read the Steeler defense,”where is William Gay?”
    Ike Taylor has Super Bowl hangover.
    Brett Keisel and Ryan Clark are Men among men.
    Arians and the special teams coach need to be replaced

  40. BigMFBen says: Nov 30, 2009 2:58 PM

    Yeah Florio… Tomlin doesn’t like Ben. Dixon is the next Cunningham… And the Steelers will have a difficult decision to make whether to keep Ben over Dixon.
    You are a friggin HACK!

  41. BigMFBen says: Nov 30, 2009 3:16 PM

    Where was Whines Hard during last seaon’s AFCC Game? HURT on the sidelines!

  42. steelersmichele says: Nov 30, 2009 4:14 PM

    Florio, go write for TMZ or US Weekly. I think the crap you make up would be better suited for a tabloid.
    If he wasn’t cleared earlier in the week, it would have gotten out. No way this stays quiet before a divisional game against the Ravens.
    I hate to repeat what others have said, but Florio, you’re an idiot.

  43. HamBurghlar says: Nov 30, 2009 4:55 PM

    Steelersfantasy: Great username! For someone who doesn’t like the Steelers or their fans, its’ lovely that you take the time to post under that name! Gives us the warm n tingly’s in our bellies that you’re thinking about us so much..
    Now, go back to playing with the dolls that you stole, the grownups are talking.

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