Steelers’ Zach Banner Reacts to Former Roommate’s Arrest

Chad Wheeler Stephon Tuitt

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Chad Wheeler #72 of the University of Southern California Trojans moves to block Stephon Tuitt #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on October 19, 2013.

Wednesday’s media landscape has been dominated by news of the arrest of Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Chad Wheeler. According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Wheeler was arrested on Saturday “after being arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence, accused of assaulting his girlfriend at a residence….”

Per Condotta, the police report indicates that “the victim had called 911 to state that she was being ‘killed,’” with Wheeler—who is 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds—allegedly having strangled the victim before she lost consciousness.

“The report also [says] when she regained consciousness, Wheeler was standing near [her] and said, ‘Wow you’re alive?’” writes Condotta.

Zach Banner: Chad Wheeler is Someone ‘Completely Different’

The news caught the attention of Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Zach Banner, who played on the offensive line with Wheeler in college at USC and roomed with him as well.

On Wednesday morning, Banner sent a tweet that read:

“Chad Wheeler is someone completely different than my roommate and brother at SC, and today I had to come to terms with that. What he did was heartbreaking, and I will never forgive… My thoughts, and prayers go out to the victim. She and her health should be the upmost priority.”

It’s interesting that Banner used the phrase “completely different” in his tweet, as Condotta indicates the police report says that “Wheeler had been on medication for bi-polar disorder but had not taken it of late.”

Chad Wheeler is Out on $400,000 Bail

After his arrest Wheeler appeared in court on Monday, where bail was set at $400,000 and “Wheeler was ordered not to have contact with the alleged victim and to surrender all weapons.”

The immediately above-referenced report also indicates that Wheeler has already bonded out of jail and “is due in King County District Court again Wednesday for a probable-cause hearing.”

Notably, Wheeler sent several messages on Wednesday via his Twitter account, including one in which he apologized to the alleged victim and said that the events that transpired over the weekend were the result of a “manic episode.”

The Seattle Seahawks Have Waived Wheeler

In the meantime, the Seahawks released a statement “condemning this act of domestic violence” and encouraging Wheeler to “get the help he needs.”

That’s apparently what Wheeler intends to do. In another tweet he admitted that it was “time for him to walk away from football and get the help I need to never pose a threat to another.”

Finally, he went on to apologize again and indicated that the victim is getting “the care she needs.”

According to the Seattle Times, the victim—who is 5-foot-9 and 145 pounds—“suffered a dislocated arm and was bleeding” as a result of the altercation.

Wheeler Went Undrafted in 2017, Possibly Due to Off-the-Field Concerns

Wheeler came into the NFL in the spring of 2017, signing with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent, despite the fact that he was an All-Pac-12 left tackle during his final season in college.

It’s possible he would have been drafted if not for concerns about off-the-field issues. A 2017 article in the New York Daily News notes that a “Dec. 2015 incident specifically sticks to Wheeler’s name: the USC tackle was not arrested, but he reportedly threatened a teammate, punched the walls and windows of an apartment, got into an altercation with police, and then was taken to a Los Angeles hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.”

Yet Wheeler made 19 starts and played in 27 games for New York before the Giants released him. Seattle went on to sign him to its practice squad in October 2019, and he played in five games this past season. But as noted by the official statement from the Seahawks (above), Wheeler has been waived and is now a free agent.

As for Banner, he was a fourth-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. He failed to make Indy’s roster and spent the 2017 season with the 0-16 Cleveland Browns. In 2018 he got the opportunity to join the Steelers, where he has remained ever since.

Banner is currently a pending unrestricted free agent but will likely return to the Steelers in 2021 as he is coming off a torn ACL that he suffered in the 2020 season opener against the New York Giants.

In 2015-16 Banner and Wheeler were part of the same USC offense as Pittsburgh wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was drafted by the Steelers in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

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Also Read:
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