‘Bigger Than Ben’ Makes It Clear, Roethlisberger’s No Diva


Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers before the game against the Seattle Seahawks on September 15, 2019.

Last week I highlighted the first episode of a new four-part documentary chronicling Ben Roethlisberger’s recovery from season-ending elbow surgery. In part one—titled ‘Bigger Circumstances’—there were a number of significant reveals, such as: the exact nature of his elbow injury; what Steelers doctors told Big Ben when he reached the sideline after he felt ‘excruciating pain’ in his elbow; and how he was given the option to either have surgery or never play football again.

But it’s safe to say that episode two—titled ‘Bigger Motivation’—is even more revealing and compelling, largely because it takes us inside the medical world of Ben Roethlisberger. Much of the video was recorded by Ben’s wife Ashley, so we see Ben being wheeled into the operating room, coming out of anesthesia after his elbow surgery, and at his follow-up doctor’s appointments.

We also see Steelers team doctor—Dr. Jim Bradley—removing the stitches from Roethlisberger’s elbow, an uncomfortable-to-watch procedure where we see Ben tear up from the pain and ask, half-jokingly, “Where’s my wooden stick?”

We even get to see Big Ben in the role of ordinary Steelers fan, ‘yelling at the TV’ while watching his teammates play the San Francisco 49ers as he sits in a California hotel room the day before surgery.

Mike Tomlin on Hearing the Severity of Ben Roethlisberger’s Elbow Injury

Part 2 also contains notable interview segments with Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, as well as Roethlisberger’s surgeon.

“I think more than anything, my reaction was, I was sick for Ben,” says Tomlin, recalling when he heard about the career-threatening nature of his quarterback’s injury. “I don’t even know that I weighed what it meant for us at that time. I have worked with this dude a long time, I have seen the things that he’s been able to endure. I know the toughness of the guy, I know the mentality of the guy so I was just sick for him.”

“I don’t know of any quarterback that has torn this amount of the tendon off,” adds Dr. Neal Elattrache, who performed Roethlisberger’s surgery. “You don’t necessarily hear about the ones that are able to successfully play with some symptoms so they have it to a lesser degree, but to this degree where it came to surgery, it was one of the bigger tears that I had ever heard of.”

‘Over 220 Visits’?

There’s also a segment in episode two where Dr. Bradley talks about what Big Ben goes through to play—“what it takes for him to get up sometimes from what he goes through,” as Dr. Bradley puts it.

Then Dr. Bradley make an offhand comment that is truly remarkable, saying, “[Roethlisberger]’s been though an awful lot—over 220 visits of some sort, that’s a lot.”

That is a lot, if it’s referring to the number of consults Roethlisberger has had with Dr. Bradley and other doctors and surgeons during the course of his Pittsburgh Steelers career.

Watch part two of ‘Bigger Than Ben’ below:

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