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Roethlisberger Traded for Lemieux - at Zoo

First he gets cut (well, by a beef jerky sponsor).

Now, embattled Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been traded - by the Pittsburgh Zoo.

In the wake of the star athlete's dismissed sexual assault allegations, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has taken down Roethlisberger's name on an elephant display and replaced him with hockey hall of famer and former Penguins star Mario Lemieux.

The display compares the height of elephants with other earthly creatures, including professional athletes. Roethlisberger is listed at 6'5" and Lemieux at 6'4" so the trade worked from a numbers standpoint.

It also worked from a PR standpoint.

"Well, we have had some calls," zoo spokeswoman Tracy Gray told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Mr. Roethlisberger isn't the most popular person lately."

Lemieux was a logical choice to replace Roethlisberger since he is hugely popular in the city. But he falls just short of Big Ben in two key categories: height (one inch shorter) and currency (he's retired). Why not give some zoo exposure to some current Pittsburgh athletes who fit the height requirements?

A few candidates:

Pirates Pitcher Charlie Morton: 6'5, 230 lbs: Despite a 16.55 ERA this year, he has the confidence of his manager. "He needs to get back to being aggressive and letting his stuff play," John Russell said.

Steelers guard Trai Essex: 6'5, 324 lbs: Northwestern grad started all 16 games for the Steelers last season; At 324 pounds, Essex dwarfs even Big Ben.

Penguins center Mike Rupp: 6'5, 230 lbs: Cleveland native tallied 13 goals and six assists; Rupp is a good defensive forward and scored a hat trick on Nov. 30.

Pittsburgh Panthers forward Nasir Robinson, 6'5, 220 lbs: Averaged 6.6 points per game (scored 26 points against Louisville) and 5.6 rebounds per game last year and he hails from Pittsburgh.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com