Ben Roethlisberger told ESPN THE MAGAZINE that he has a bodyguard with him at all times (and it’s not Steelers LT Trai Essex). The reason? Not what we thought Big Ben feared most - cheerleaders - but something a little more serious: gun-toting lunatics who might make him the next NFL player to become a victim of violence.
Roethlisberger told the magazine (via REUTERS) that he hired the protection after an incident where a nutcase threatened him by waving a gun in his face. But Big Ben was able to use his powers of persuasion to get out of what could have been a tragic situation:
“The one time I was scared the most, I didn’t have anybody with me. I don’t want to relive all the details, but this guy brandished a weapon in my face. I kept my cool and talked my way out of it. People showed up and helped get rid of the guy. That’s when I decided to have someone with me all the time.”
Talked his way out of it? Now, I’m a pretty good talker: I once convinced the waitress at Denny’s to except a forged Arizona library card as proof of ID for a free meal. But if some crazy person pulled out a gun and pointed it at me, the only noise I think I would make is the sound of me soiling myself. And probably lots of crying.
It might seem paradoxical that some of the most impressive physical specimens are seen as easy targets for criminals, but Jaguars RB Fred Taylor says that robbers know that players aren’t allowed to have a handgun at team facilities, making them easy pickings:
“League officials tell us we need to take measures to protect ourselves. But the NFL says we can’t have guns in the (team) facility, even in the parking lot. Crooks know this. They can just sit back and wait for us to drive off, knowing we won’t have anything in our vehicle from point A to point B.”
Despite the NFL’s rules, NFLPA President and Kevin Mawae of the Tennessee Titans estimates in the story that 50 percent of players still carry a handgun. Mawae doesn’t, but man oh man, I wouldn’t mess with him anyway:
“I don’t own a handgun. I have a hunting rifle. My job is to protect my family. If someone comes into my house? Game’s on,” he said.