A new series called "Bigger Than Ben" tracks the quarterback's road to recovery after he tore three of his five flexor tendons.

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – After Ben Roethlisberger tore three of his five flexor tendons right off the bone, the team’s doctor told him he had two options: retirement or surgery.

A new series called “Bigger Than Ben” tracks Roethlisberger’s road to recovery after the injury last year that could have ended his career.

The Steelers started their 2019 season with the loss of wide receiver coach Darryl Drake fresh in their minds. The team lost to the Patriots 33-3 in their first game.

Then came week 2 and Roethlisberger’s season-ending injury. He says when he threw a pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster, he felt “one of the most excruciating pains I’ve felt” like “something had just ripped off my bone.”

He walked up to the team doctor who told him he couldn’t go back in — which Dr. Bradley says is something he’s never told Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger says that’s because three of his five flexor tendons had torn right off the bone.

Dr. Bradley told him he had two options.

“One: ‘we can do absolutely nothing to your elbow and you’ll be just fine, but you’ll never play football again in the NFL,'” Roethlisberger recalls. “‘But if you want to play, you’re going to need surgery.'”

His wife Ashley says she told him she would support him with whatever he did.

“If he felt content where he was, with the career that he’s had, and it was on his heart to just be done, I would support him 100 percent in that. I was basically handing him permission to retire, if that’s where his heart was,” Ashely says.

“He listened, and you could tell he really took it to heart, and thought. And he said, ‘thank you, but I don’t feel done. I’m not done.”