Ben Roethlisberger took his fair share of hits over his 18-year NFL career.
In fact, until Week 8 of the 2022 NFL season, Roethlisberger was the most sacked quarterback in league history, getting taken to the turf 554 times.
Tom Brady, in his 856th season under center, just took ownership of that “record” during the Buccaneers’ 27-22 Thursday Night Football loss to the Ravens.
With all those hits comes a whole lotta pain.
Now, on the latest episode of his Footbahlin’ with Ben Roethlisberger podcast, the Steelers’ longtime pigskin-slinger opened up on the worst of the worst.
Prompted by the fan question: “What was the most painful on-field injury that you had to play through?” Roethlisberger took the mic.
“Well … probably two that I can think of right off the top of my head,” Roethlisberger began. “When I got my nose broke in Baltimore, Haloti Ngata’s hand came right through here and busted my nose, I remember it was second down I think and he busted my nose and I remember like, I got blood coming down. I’m like, it hurts but it’s not excruciating. But I’m like, ‘Gosh, that kind of hurts.’ And I remember kind of wiping the blood and I kind of remember feeling my nose. I’m like, ‘I think… I don’t know. I think it’s [broken].’
“So we got third down. I stay in the game, I don’t leave the game. Third down, I think we ran a draw or something. I come off the field and I was like, ‘Doc, is my nose broke?’ He’s like, ‘I don’t… we’ll have to look at it at halftime. I can’t really tell. We’ll check it out when we get in there.’ So I’m like, ‘Alright, fine.’
It gets better from there.
“So we go into halftime, I go to the mirror, and my nose was plastered to my cheek,” Roethlisberger continued. “Like, I could smell around the corner, OK? I could smell around the corner. And I’m like, ‘Doc. Really? Really? You’re not sure?
“He goes, ‘Well, I didn’t want to freak you out out there.’ I’m like, ‘What?!’ So he, you know, crack it, put it back in place, put a visor on and play. When they popped that thing back into place, that’s miserable. So Dr. Bradley lied to me. That one was kind of painful but unique.”
Roethlisberger’s description is fun. But you probably want a visual, right?
Roethlisberger wasn’t done there, either. He had another story for the folks at home.
And it’s a good one.
“My second year maybe, I’m not sure,” Roethlisberger said. “I had a meniscus [injury] and the flap of my meniscus doubled over. And so it was like… It was supposed to be flat and it, like, tore and then it doubled over. So between bone it was rubbing. And it really felt like, every time I took step someone was stabbing me with a knife.
“The weird thing was is like if your knee did something unique, like your bones would be like this [demonstrates knee bending with hands]. And if it did something [to] gain enough space, that flap would open back up and it’d go back to — you’d feel nothing. [So] the doc would be like, ‘What’s going on?’ and I’d be like, ‘I don’t know. I can’t tell you. It feels perfect,’ to all of a sudden so much excruciating pain you can’t take a step without getting stabbed with a knife.
“So that was a very unique injury.”
Remember when I said Roethlisberger was until recently the most-sacked quarterback of all time?
Yeah, that means he has a ton of injury stories. He initially mentioned two, but he left more for good measure.
“I remember when I broke my thumb, I thought the ball was flat,” Roethlisberger said. “So, I remember handing the ball off or throwing it and [I] told the equipment manager, ‘Hey, get that ball out! Get that ball out! It’s flat!’ And they grabbed it and they’re like, ‘No, it’s not.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, it is!’ And like, I was holding it but my thumb was [broken], so it gave, like the bone was broken right here. My thumb, I didn’t have enough strength to hold it, so it felt like the ball was flat.
“No, I didn’t know I broke it. I mean, I thought something happened. That’s actually the year we won the Super Bowl, the first one, because I had to wear a glove. But I thought the ball was flat. I thought that was unique.”
OK, OK, OK. One more.
And Steelers fans already know where this one’s going: The elbow injury. The elbow injury.
“Obviously, when I hurt my elbow, when I threw that one ball, it felt like … I remember throwing it in the game, I’m like, OK, I’ve got pain. Something’s not right with my elbow but I’m just going to keep going,” Roethlisberger said. “And then on the very last throw, when I let it go, it felt like the ligaments or something in my elbow, it felt like it curled down to my hand.
“So it felt like something unwound. Like, you stretch a rubber band out and all of a sudden it goes ‘Zing!’ and I’m like, OK, that’s not right. It just felt like something unwound on my hand … So I went over to the doc, and I’m like, ‘Hey … it feels like this.’ And he’s like, ‘Uhh.’ And he gave me this look. I’m like, ‘What? That’s OK. Let’s get this thing figured out.
“He goes, ‘Ben, you’re not going back in.’ I’m like, ‘Why not? It just hurts a little bit.’ He’s like, ‘Ben … I’m pretty sure you probably just tore your ligaments off the bone.’ I’m like, ‘You don’t know that, Doc.’ He did. He knew it. So I give you credit, Dr. Bradley. You knew.”
Watch the full episode of Footbahlin’ with Ben Roethlisberger right here: