Still reeling from his unexpected and sudden break up with long-time partner Bruce Arians, Ben Roethlisberger reluctantly agreed to get back on the coordinator scene today when he met Todd Haley. The two were supposed to meet at Buffalo Wild Wings for wings, beer, and football talk. Misunderstanding emerged, however, when the couple got their signals crossed on which location to meet at. North Hills biased Roethlisberger assumed Haley would cross rivers, tunnels, and bridges to see the quarterback at the Gibsonia location. Haley presumed Roethlisberger would come to meet him near his South Hills base at the West Mifflin site. After some back and forth, a compromise was reached as the twosome agreed to get together at the Pointe at North Fayette.
When both arrived, confusion still ensued as Haley forgot his glasses and Ben was expecting Haley to have a beard. The two kept missing each other until the recently clean shaven Haley was alerted to Roethlisberger’s presence when a slightly intoxicated guy at the bar yelled out, “hey, everybody, look – it’s Big Ben!”
After some awkward small talk about the traffic and routes taken, Ben lobbied for seats at the bar, while Haley, suspicious of eavesdropping, suggested a table in the corner. A decision couldn’t be reached and the teenage hostess was visibly frazzled by the impasse. The manager suggested a workable solution when he recommended a table in the bar area. Both reluctantly acquiesced.
When the waitress approached for drinks, Ben wanted to hurry up and spread out the meal with an appetizer order of the Tablegaiting Sampler. A more conservative Haley wanted to discuss the options first and run out some clock over drinks. Ben rolled his eyes, but relented as Miller Lites were ordered. While waiting, Haley opened up his playbook and showed his new QB some options for the upcoming season. Ben feigned interest, flipping through the book with one hand. However, under the table, Ben was actually looking at Arians’ old plays and subtly caressing former routes with his fingers. Page 20 of Haley’s playbook caught Ben’s eye as he recognized a semi-familiar formation. Tantalized by the prospect of scoring, and lost in the moment, Ben blurted out, “Oh, Bruce!” Both self-consciously ignored the outburst and refocused on their beers.
After finishing the playbook and their meals, the couple sat in silence for a good seven minutes. The waitress finally came by and asked if they wanted dessert. Before she could finish the sentence, both nervously proclaimed, “check.”
Once the check was brought another uncomfortable back and forth emerged as both parties grabbed for the bill. A further compromise was reached when the quarterback suggested he pay and Haley could tip.
A final awkward goodbye was witnessed. After an uncomfortable silence, Ben broke the ice by saying, “so…uh…I guess I’ll see you at OTAs?” Haley agreed with Roethlisberger’s sentiment and told him he could “call anytime…or don’t. Either way is fine. Whatever way you want to take the next step is OK. But, really, no pressure. I don’t want to force things so soon.”
Both Haley and Roethlisberger drove off onto 376 in opposite directions. Cell phone records indicated that Ben texted Arians on the road, writing, “miss you, thinking off you [sic]. Maybe meet up in Columbus, this weekend? Or not? Ugh…this is way harder than I thought it would be.”