Nate Washington: Ben Roethlisberger Injury Almost Ended My Steelers Career

Nate Washington

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers WR Nate Washington during the AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens in 2009.

Former NFL wide receiver Nate Washington won two Super Bowls as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he almost missed out on the chance to win either.

Appearing yesterday on the Midday 180 on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville, Washington revealed how his Steelers’ career nearly ended before it had a chance to get started, thanks to a freak injury to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Nate Washington: Undrafted Free Agent from Tiffen University

The story begins with Washington—an undrafted free agent from Tiffen University—beating long adds to earn a place on the Steelers’ roster as a rookie in 2005.

But prior to the team’s week two game at Houston, head coach Bill Cowher called Washington into his office to say, “‘Nate, unfortunately we’ve got to move you down to the practice squad for this week. You seen Ben hurt his foot, we have to bring in a quarterback just in case….’”

Washington was already looking forward to the Texans game, as his grandmother planned to make the short drive from her home outside Houston to see him play.

“This was her opportunity for her to see me dress, see me play, possibly see me on the field at least. I may not get no playing time but she could at least see her baby warm up,” Washington said, laughing, as he continued recounting the story to the hosts of the Midday 180.

As for the injury to Big Ben: “I think somebody stepped on his foot or something,” Washington said, recognizing the implications of the team making a roster move, which opened the door to a claim—or offer—from another NFL team.

As it turns out, Washington wasn’t added to the active roster of any other team, but he says he “was so disappointed that … I was literally ready to leave Pittsburgh and go and take a couple different opportunities that I had and just move on.”

The implication is that a few teams were offering Washington a spot on their practice squad, and he almost jumped at the chance, despite Cowher encouraging him to stay with the Steelers.

“But something about the brotherhood there, and coach Cowher—I had felt like at the time and still feel like to this day—was a straight shooter,” Washington recalled. “Unfortunately I missed the Houston trip to play in front of my grandmother, but the boys won the game, they came home, and they put me back on the 53-man roster the next week. After that I didn’t look back.”

Nate Washington’s Career with the Steelers

Washington went on to play for the Steelers for four seasons before moving on and playing six seasons with the Tennessee Titans before finishing his NFL career with the Houston Texans.

During his time in Pittsburgh he caught 104 passes for 1,705 yards and 12 touchdowns. His best NFL season came with the Titans in 2011, when he caught 74 passes for 1,023 yards and seven touchdowns.

He won the Super Bowl with the Steelers after the 2005 and 2008 seasons, the latter game recently re-broadcast on NBCSN, featuring new interviews with Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes.

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