Last week, former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Josh Harris accused quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of fumbling on purpose late in the team’s 2014 Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. And while it took a few extra days, that story has now garnered national media attention and was even all over the Monday morning sports talk shows on all the major networks. By Monday evening, former Steelers backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski apparently had had enough of all the talk about Roethlisberger possibly fumbling on purpose late in that 2014 game as he took to Twitter with a narrated video of the play in question in which he attempted to exonerate his former teammate of any purposeful wrongdoing.
As you can see in the video below, Gradkowski, who was Roethlisberger’s backup in 2014, explains why he believes there’s no way his former teammate fumbled on purpose late in that game and why he believes the fumble happened in the first place.
In short, Gradkowski blamed the fumble on Roethlisberger forgetting and not turning the right way after receiving the snap from center Maurkice Pouncey.
“Ben is the fiercest competitor that I’ve ever been around and there’s no way he fumbled on purpose,” Gradkowski says in the video, after first explaining the play call, the formation alignment and what Roethlisberger was supposed to do after getting the snap. “And actually, we added the term ‘slant’ to 34-bob-easy, letting the quarterback know the fullback is in the ‘I’, now you have to slant technique, reverse out, to hand off to the tailback.”
So, there you go. Gradkowski’s explanation should put to bed all of the talk that Roethlisberger purposefully fumbled late in that 2014 game just because he didn’t like then-offensive coordinator Todd Haley not calling for a kneel-down in that situation.
I’m not sure what Harris had to gain by accusing Roethlisberger of fumbling late in that 2014 game, but he certainly did get one last 15 minutes worth of fame by doing so. I’m sure that Gradkowski’s explanation of the play in question will now go unnoticed by all of the people who gave credence and plausibility to Harris’ accusation over the course of the last several days.
UPDATE: Harris has now recorded another video rebuttal: