Big Ben Roethlisberger recently completed his 14th NFL season in disappointing fashion. His Pittsburgh Steelers were upset at home at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who, earlier in the season, made Roethlisberger look so bad that he openly contemplated retirement. Well, after this second loss to the Jags, Big Ben hinted he would return for the 2018 season, but that’s not a given and we may have seen his last NFL game.
If his career truly is done, then now is a good time to look back at some of Big Ben’s men. The Steelers have equipped Roethlisberger with some of the best receivers of this era during the last 14 years and a couple of them may end up in the Hall of Fame. Antonio Brown, Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, Mike Wallace, and so on and so forth are just some of the great players Big Ben has hooked up with for touchdowns. And those are just the receivers! There’s also Le’Veon Bell, Heath Miller, Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker among running backs and tight ends. Needless to say, the Steelers have done their very best to surround Big Ben with the very best, which has resulted in two Super Bowl rings.
But those are the best players to catch a Big Ben touchdown. What about the very worst players to reach the endzone and have Steelers Nation waving their Terrible Towels? Who are the guys who won’t get a shout-out during Big Ben’s Hall of Fame speech? We’ll look back at the Steelers who had their 15 minutes of fame by catching a Roethlisberger touchdown, but really did nothing else. Here are the 15 worst players to catch a Big Ben touchdown pass.
15 Najeh Davenport - Youtube Gamer
Najeh Davenport was first a part of the legendary 2001 Miami Hurricanes, as he played in a backfield that also featured future NFL stars Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis and Frank Gore. He then averaged nearly five yards per carry in four seasons backing up Ahman Green in Green Bay. He joined Pittsburgh in 2006 and helped fill the void created by the retiring Jerome Bettis. Davenport scored nine touchdowns over two seasons including three in the air (and the only three receiving touchdowns of his career).
After being released four times by two teams during the 2008 season, Davenport hung up the cleats and retired back to Miami, Florida. Davenport has made a complete 180 in terms of his career and now broadcasts himself playing video games over YouTube. Whatever pays the bills, we guess?
14 Jay Riemersma - Deacon
Riemersma can, in part, say Tom Brady would have never became Tom Brady if not for him. Riemersma was a quarterback at Michigan until a torn rotator cuff forced him to switch to tight end. Had that injury never happened, Michigan likely never would have recruited Brady. Riemersma would go on to play eight injury-plagued seasons in the NFL and had as many surgeries as seasons played. He spent his first six seasons in Buffalo and then finished out his last two in Pittsburgh. The final catch of his career was a game-winning touchdown vs. Jacksonville in 2004 that also ruptured his Achilles’ tendon.
Riemersma spent the next year rehabbing and coaching in high school, but ultimately decided to retire afterwards. He then entered politics and ran for the House of Representatives in Michigan in 2010, but was beat out. He is currently a deacon in Michigan and also serves on the Board of Directors for the local chapter of the American Red Cross.
13 Isaac Redman - Runs Pro Football Camp
Redman (not related to rapper Redman) was released and re-signed five times in his rookie season of 2009 before finally landing on the Steelers roster for good the next season. As a big back with speed, he performed a variety of roles including being both a goal-line back and being a kick returner. He spent five years as a backup running back to Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall, and Le’Veon Bell. His first two career touchdowns came via passes from Big Ben, and he also scored another five touchdowns on the ground.
After injuring his neck in the 2013 season, Redman visited the doctor who performed Peyton Manning’s neck surgery, who said the running back had a career-ending injury. In retirement, Redman moved back to his native South Jersey, where he runs a football camp along with former Pro Bowl cornerback Kevin Ross.
12 Weslye Saunders - Professional Wrestler
Just like Dwyane Wade, the spelling of Weslye Saunders’ name looks incorrect but that’s how it is. He made the Steelers as an undrafted rookie in 2011 and one of his four catches went for a score. He was expected to return to the team the following year and push for more snaps as the backup tight end, but Saunders was suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season for taking Adderall. He was then released by Pittsburgh and joined the Colts, where he played for the next two seasons. He finished his three-year NFL career with more suspensions (2) than touchdowns (1) as he was popped again in 2013 for taking a “not yet published drug.”
After not playing for three seasons, Saunders has presumably given up the chance of joining another team and he’s taken his talents to the WWE. He attended a tryout with them in October 2017 and if he does sign with the company, it's a good thing his two strikes against the NFL’s drug policy won’t count against WWE’s Wellness Policy.
11 Verron Haynes - Real Estate
Haynes was born in Trinidad and Tobago, where his father was on the national soccer team. He then moved to New York before settling in Atlanta, where he was a high school classmate of singer Usher. He then played at the University of Georgia before joining the Steelers in 2002, where he was a backup running back to Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker. He played seven seasons in the NFL, with the final one coming with his hometown Falcons in 2009. Haynes' last college game came in 2001 and 15 years later he went back to Athens and completed his college degree in finance. Haynes has had a successful post-NFL career as he currently works in real estate, and also held previous jobs with Morgan Stanley and Bank of America.
10 Rashard Mendenhall - Executive Story Editor, HBO
Mendenhall (far right) is the only running back drafted in the first round by the Steelers in the last 29 years and he posted back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. But he is best (or worst) remembered for fumbling in the Super Bowl in 2010, which ended with a Steelers loss. His Steelers career essentially ended in 2012 when he did not show up to a game after learning that he would be deactivated. He then went to Arizona for one season and decided to abruptly retire at the age of 26.
In his retirement statement he said, “Football was pretty cool, but I don't want to play anymore. I want to travel the world and write!” Mendenhall did indeed become a writer, and a script writer at that. He currently works as the executive story editor on the HBO show Ballers, where he provides authenticity and realism to a fictional TV show.
9 Jerricho Cotchery - WRs Coach, Carolina Panthers
The only “Jerricho” and the only “Cotchery” in NFL history, J-Co had an outlier of a season in 2013. It was his third with the Steelers, but Cotchery had 10 receiving touchdowns ,which was more than he had in his previous four seasons combined. Cotchery played 12 NFL seasons and had over 500 career catches which makes him, by far, the most known unknown (shout-out to Three 6 Mafia) on this list. After three years in Pittsburgh, Cotchery finished his career with two years in Carolina where the 2016 Super Bowl was the last game he played in.
As someone who went to North Carolina State, Cotchery was obviously a fan of the area and decided to stay in NC once he retired. He became the Panthers' assistant wide receivers coach in 2017 after a shakeup within the coaching staff, in which Ricky Proehl resigned from his position as wide receivers coach.
8 Matt Spaeth - Hunting
Spaeth had two stints with the Steelers with two years with the Bears sandwiched in between. He played with a young Big Ben in his 20s from 2007-10 and then played with the grizzled Roethlisberger in his 30s from 2013-2015. In 2014, Spaeth was the recipient of a historic touchdown pass as he caught Big Ben’s 12th touchdown pass over a two-game stretch. Big Ben threw six in one game and then another six the next game to set an NFL record for most touchdown passes over a two-game stretch. Spaeth tried to come back for the 2016 season, but was released in training camp due to a failed physical.
Spaeth is enjoying retirement and splits his time between Pittsburgh and his home state of Minnesota. In 2017 he went on a pheasant hunt alongside many of his former teammates including Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu, Cam Heyward and Big Ben himself.
7 Leonard Pope - Sales
At 6-foot-8, Pope was one of the few people who could call Roethlisberger Lil’ Ben. The former Georgia Bulldog is tied for the third-tallest player in NFL history to catch a touchdown pass ,and he was very efficient in his one season in Pittsburgh. Pope had three catches as a Steeler but two of them went for touchdowns. Pope played seven NFL seasons but his biggest contribution came away from the field. During the 2011 lockout, Pope was at a birthday party for his fiancé’s cousin. There were many kids there and at one point a six-year-old fell into the deep end of a swimming pool. Pope was inside the house when he heard the kid’s mother screaming and he ran outside, jumped into the water and saved the boy. After retiring from football in 2012, Pope moved back to his native Georgia ,and he currently works in sales.
6 Will Johnson - Nearing Retirement
How does a running back who had zero career carries in college play four years in the NFL? By being a world-class blocker and special teams player. Johnson was a fullback on those Pat White-Steve Slaton West Virginia teams, but never had a single rushing attempt. But he impressed in interviews and signed with Pittsburgh as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He had eight rushing attempts in the NFL and even scored once on the ground during his four NFL seasons. He also caught two touchdown passes from Big Ben, who grew up just an hour away from Johnson in Ohio. Johnson last played in 2015, but is continuing to work out and stay in shape in the event of a tryout.
He spent the 2016 season on injured reserve for the Giants and was cut by them in 2017. If his NFL career truly is over, then he expects to retire to North Carolina, where his wife is a successful real estate agent.
5 Jerame Tuman - High School Football Coach
Pronounced “Jeremy,” Tuman was Heath Miller’s predecessor at tight end and spent nine seasons in Black & Gold. He was the prototypical blocking tight end but still managed to haul in seven touchdown receptions in his career. Prior to joining the NFL, Tuman was a Michigan Wolverine in the late 1990s, which means not only did he catch touchdown passes from Ben Roethlisberger, but he also caught college touchdown passes from Tom Brady. Aside from playing alongside those future Hall of Famers, Tuman ended his NFL career in 2008 by catching passes from an actual HOF quarterback, as he played his last season with Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals.
Even though he was born and raised in Kansas, Tuman decided to make Eastern Pennsylvania his home in retirement and he spent the 2017 year as an assistant football coach at North Allegheny High School, where three of his kids are enrolled.
4 Michael Palmer - Financial Rep
Even the most diehard Steelers fans may struggle to remember Palmer, who played with the team in 2013 and 2014. He appeared in 31 games over those two seasons but saw a total of 76 snaps on offense. He caught a grand total of two passes as Pittsburgh’s third-string tight end, and one of those went for a touchdown. Blocking tight ends usually have a short shelf life in the NFL and Palmer was done at the age of 26.
After not getting any offers from teams after the 2014 season, he enrolled in Notre Dame’s Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program where he got his certification in business planning and financial strategy. He now works as a financial rep in Atlanta and also served as a sideline reporter for his alma mater of Clemson from 2015-2017.
3 Cedrick Wilson - Fired Teacher
Wilson is one of the few people on the planet who won a championship in high school, college (Tennessee) and the NFL (Steelers). He played four seasons with the 49ers before joining Pittsburgh from 2005-2007. He is best remembered for two things: breaking out during the team’s Super Bowl run in 2005 and for being arrested for assault on his girlfriend. The latter earned him his release from Pittsburgh in 2008 and that essentially ended his football career. He then became a high school teacher and coach but still couldn’t avoid trouble, as in 2012, he was indicted on federal charges for fraud. He had hired two people to take his teacher’s certification exams and this was a part of a larger scheme all over Tennessee and Arkansas.
There’s no word on what Wilson is up to today, but his son, also named Cedric, was one of the top receivers in college football last season. He had over 1,200 yards and was on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List while at Boise State and the younger Wilson is now expected to be a mid-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
2 Derek Moye - Sports Trainer
Remember when Roethlisberger complained that after Plaxico Burress left the team, he only had short receivers to throw to? That was a reason Pittsburgh went out and signed Derek Moye who stands 6 feet 5 inches, just like Burress. Moye was PA-born and bred and attended Penn State, but he had just two NFL catches in his career with one being a touchdown. Even as one of the youngest players on this list at 29, Moye’s pro career is pretty much over and he has settled into a sports training job post-NFL career.
He owns his own facility in Pennsylvania where he works on improving the quickness, footwork and speed of prospective college and NFL receivers. He is also a private wide receiver coach for those in the Western Pennsylvania area.
1 Dan Kreider - Investment Property Owner
The longtime Steelers fullback combined with Jerome Bettis to give Pittsburgh 500 pounds of beef in the backfield. Like most modern-day fullbacks, Kreider had twice as many catches in his career as he had rushing attempts, and almost exclusively focused his energy on blocking. A Pennsylvania native, Kreider played eight of his 10 NFL seasons in the Keystone State before spending one season with the Rams and one with the Cardinals. Playing fullback definitely took a toll on Kreider’s body as he had three neck surgeries from 2016-2017 and also suffered a number of concussions. Despite that, he is happy that his 14-year-old son is playing tackle football. The Kreider family resides in Pennsylvania, where Dan and his brother own a number of investment properties.
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