In a profile by The Athletic released Wednesday, Hall of Fame linebacker and former San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary made a shocking revelation about Pittsburgh Steelers once having an interest in trading quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
According the Singletary, San Francisco had a trade in place to acquire Roethlisberger from Pittsburgh following his first sexual assault allegations in 2009, when a civil suit was filed in Washoe County, Nevada by Andrea McNulty, who accused Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her in her hotel room after a celebrity golf tournament.
While Niners John York, CEO Jed York, director of player personnel Trent Baalke were all ready to make the deal, it was vetoed by Singletary. Not only did he feel current quarterback and perceived bust Alex Smith hadn’t been given a fair opportunity, but Singletary also felt it would be hypocritical of him to bring in Roethlisberger amid the allegations.
“I had been telling the team I wanted a team of character,” Singletary told The Athletic. “I felt I had to be true to that. But if I could do it again, I’d do it differently.”
It’s not clear what the Steelers might have received from the 49ers in a trade for Roethlisberger.
Smith went on to have the best season of his career to that point, passing for 2,350 yards and 18 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. He played another three seasons in San Francisco before being traded to Kansas City in 2013. Smith went on to earn three Pro Bowl appearances with the Chiefs. He retired last April.
The civil suit was eventually settled, after the veracity of McNulty’s claims were brought into question by other testimony. Roethlisberger, he was again accused of sexual assault in March 2010 and subsequently received a six-game suspension from the NFL. He ended up being reinstated after serving four games of the suspension. Pittsburgh reached the Super Bowl that season, but fell to the Green Bay Packers.
Roethlisberger is expected to retire from football after his 18th season in Pittsburgh ended earlier this month.