Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s wife is pregnant, and he says that if she goes into labor on a game day, he’s missing the game.
Roethlisberger said in an interview on Wednesday, and reiterated in a post on his personal website on Thursday, that if he is forced to choose, he will choose being there for the birth of his son over being with the Steelers.
“I’m not missing the birth of my child,” Roethlisberger told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “There’s no chance. I know some fans probably don’t want to hear that, but there’s no chance.”
If Roethlisberger chooses to miss a game for the birth of his child, he won’t be the first NFL player to do so. In 1993, Houston Oilers offensive tackle David Williams skipped a Sunday game because his wife gave birth the night before, and the Oilers were furious: They docked him his game check, and Oilers offensive line coach Bob Young said that he had personally skipped the birth of his own child for a football game and was outraged that Williams wouldn’t do the same, saying of Williams, “He let the guys down, and he let hundreds of thousands of fans down.”
The culture of the NFL and of American society has changed enough in two decades that Roethlisberger probably won’t face such a harsh denunciation if he does miss a game. But Roethlisberger said he and his wife — who have declined to reveal publicly when she’s due — are going to attempt to make it work so that she doesn’t give birth on a day the Steelers are playing.
“We’ll do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen,” Roethlisberger said.
But if it does happen, either Byron Leftwich or Charlie Batch will be starting at quarterback for the Steelers that day. Because Roethlisberger has decided that he’s going to prioritize being a husband and father over being a quarterback.