Mike Singletary says he vetoed a trade that would have sent Ben Roethlisberger to the 49ers

49ers head coach Mike Singletary keeps an eye on things from the sidelines as the Oakland Raiders take on the San Francisco 49ers in NFL pre-season action on Saturday August 28, 2010 in Oakland, Calif.
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Former 49ers coach Mike Singletary says that he once vetoed a trade that would have sent Ben Roethlisberger from Pittsburgh to San Francisco.

Singletary told Dan Pompei of TheAthletic.com that the 49ers and Steelers had a deal that would have resulted in Roethlisberger going to San Francisco, but Singletary vetoed the deal.

According to Singletary, 49ers owners John York and Jed York and personnel executive Trent Baalke told him in 2009 that they had a deal in place with the Steelers to acquire Roethlisberger, but that Singletary declined because this was shortly after Roethlisberger had been accused in a lawsuit of sexually assaulting a woman in Lake Tahoe.

“I had been telling the team I wanted a team of character,” Singletary told Pompei. “I felt I had to be true to that. But if I could do it again, I’d do it differently.”

Whether Singletary’s description of the events is entirely accurate is questionable. For starters, he really didn’t have the authority to veto trades. He could voice his disagreement, but if the Yorks and Baalke wanted to do it, they could have done it whether Singletary liked it or not. And we haven’t heard the Steelers’ side of the story on this deal that was allegedly agreed upon.

But there were reports after Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault that the Steelers were considering trading him. And Singletary says he was the reason that what could have been one of the most significant trades in NFL history didn’t happen.

43 responses to “Mike Singletary says he vetoed a trade that would have sent Ben Roethlisberger to the 49ers

  1. I don’t know how true this story is, but I know that the Steelers were exploring trade options with him back then.

  2. Big Ben was not a good character choice, so he made the right decision in the big picture. Sad that people sweep under the rug those legitimate problems with Ben. Niners are better off in the longer arc of history

  3. Great linebacker, awful coach. Why come out now & take a shot at Roethisberger? “I want winners” hasn’t been relevant in 10 years.

  4. I don’t believe a word of it. Singletary is trying to become relevant again because he called the Bears and asked to be included as a possible head coach. He is just trying to get his name in the news. As a die hard Bears fan, I say thanks Mike for playing hard, but it is time to fade away.

  5. I guess Singletary needs to be relevant again cause that happened like 10 million years ago. He must need attention since he’s not getting any head coaching sniffs.

  6. Why is this being reported NOW ?? Is he trying to get his name in the media for some other motives?

  7. I like how he changed his morals because it resulted in being terminated for having a unsuccessful team.

  8. Singletary has a history of inflating his own importance. I give this a 3.5 out of 10 on the truth meter.

  9. I don’t doubt this at all…the Rooneys were VERY unhappy with their star quarterback. Still, it’s very strange that this particular, huge story hasn’t leaked out until now…

  10. Wow this is shocking to hear… But at the time I do remember “chatter” about the Steelers offloading him but didn’t think they were serious.

  11. It was more likely that team management asked him about acquiring Roethlisberger before deciding whether or not to contact the Steelers about it.

  12. Mike trying to stay relevant. He did nothing to deserve being a HC as he was rushed too soon.

  13. Cannot play with them, cannot win with them, cannot coach with them. Can’t do it.

  14. Singletary was just hired as the head coach and I doubt he had the clout to scuttle the deal. If some reason he did he most likely screwed the team out of a couple SB’s. That’s the things about these what if scenarios, it’s anyones guess how this would have changed these two teams from, games won, coaching staff to players.

  15. Thanks MDS for bringing this back up. There was no mention of it during BIg Bens farewell tour but it needs to be told.

  16. I’m really glad this trade didn’t happen. Good on you Mike. Character does matter. It would have been hard to watch my team with that guy at QB.

  17. Why wouldn’t this be accurate? Why is it questionable? Every owner/GM in the league has the ability to do something whether the coach likes it or not. But most coaches in the league have a ton of leverage because they are the ones who need to coach the team/set an example/control the locker room. I believe Singletary, he was at that time a pretty strong figure in SF.

  18. Singletary took way to many headshots while playing. This man who wanted character, he’s the same coach that dropped his pants in the locker room in front of his players no?

  19. Seems like half the story. What were the 49ers offering in return? Ben was a hardheaded youngster, this doesn’t seem off the rails. Remember him doing stupid stuff like a riding/crashing a motorcycle w/out a helmet?

  20. Easy to forget how incredibly awful this organization was at the time.

    Singletary did his part to overhaul the culture.

    All this would have done is ruined Roethlisbergers career.

  21. It could just be attention-seeking to talk about this now, especially since he is looking to get a top coaching position. But if I were a GM, I sure wouldn’t be impressed by his HC history or his hindsight decision that morals shouldn’t have been so important. On the other hand, the story could be true, since it’s widely thought Roethlisberger was being shopped around at the time. And just because Singletary didn’t have a literal veto, doesn’t mean he didn’t have the ability effectively to torpedo the deal. The press would have been tough enough at the time, but if the HC let it be known he was opposed the deal, it would have been disastrous.

  22. Since we don’t know what the Steelers would have gotten in return its hard to tell how this trade would have affected the balance of power in the AFC North, but my guess is the Ravens would have picked up 3 or 4 more division titles since 2009.

  23. He didn’t win another Super Bowl, so nothing was lost in the long run even in hindsight. The 49ers actually went to more Super Bowls.

  24. So, he’s saying that he vetoed it then but would “do it differently” now? Does that mean that he regrets vetoing the trade (allegedly)?

  25. It wouldn’t have mattered any way. That team was never going to win with Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary as Head Coach.

    I can’t remember who the players were, but there was a video of them both mocking Singletary regarding making tackles: “Get low, get low” is the only thing he ever said.

  26. I love the 49ers fans saying they wouldn’t want Ben’s “character” for 9-10 solid yrs. Yeah, you can go down memory lane w/ Alex Smith, Kaepernick (any distraction there?), Brian Hoyer, and Nick Mullens. How did that decade work out for your team?

  27. Sounds like he’s trying to tell the league he’ll now abandon any and all morals if it would help him get back in. Didn’t he go one and infinity or something like that as a high school coach? I think it’s safe to say his NFL ship has sailed, but apparently it’s not going to prevent him from popping up and embarrassing himself occasionally.

  28. Singletary is a HOF LB, a great Bears defensive captain and the smartest guy on the field during his playing days,but he was just not right for being a HC. He just couldn’t get his team to perform. Harbaugh took that same team to the SB. Maybe if he tried to become some team’s DC, it could be his way back to another attempt at HC. Rehashing old stories wont.

  29. grant35 says:
    January 27, 2022 at 11:15 am
    I love the 49ers fans saying they wouldn’t want Ben’s “character” for 9-10 solid yrs. Yeah, you can go down memory lane w/ Alex Smith, Kaepernick (any distraction there?), Brian Hoyer, and Nick Mullens. How did that decade work out for your team?
    You are right. As a Ravens fan, I think that if the Niners had Ben instead of CK in the 2012 SB then the Ravens lose – maybe huge. Niner fans can talk character all they want, but Ben would have been a HUGE upgrade over any QB they’ve had since Steve Young

  30. Too bad the trade didn’t happen. Maybe a different Steelers QB would not have squandered the offensive talent the Steelers acquired in the 2010s.

    SF would’ve been a perfect place for Drama Queen Ben.

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