After last week’s embarrassing blow-out loss to the New England Patriots, the Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went on 93.7 The Fan, on Pittsburgh radio and sent a nervous tingle throughout Steeler Nation. Big Ben went over the airwaves and stated the following: “I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options, to consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season.”
If there was a bigger “if” spoken in the history of Pittsburgh sports it was probably never spoken in my lifetime. Big Ben will be 35 years old in March, and has 13 years under his belt as an NFL quarterback. He’s taken a beating physically – some of it his fault, some of it not his fault – but nonetheless, his body is definitely going through aches and pains that most men his age would feel when they turned 60.
So, is Big Ben’s declaration of “maybe” retiring a thing to be taken seriously. Yes, and no.
Ben has two more years on his contract and he isn’t walking away from any money. Period, point blank. What Ben is doing here though are two things. 1. Sending a message to the Steelers brass and 2. Acting, as what the kids would call “butt-hurt.”
The message to the Steelers organization is that he has two more years left. He’s given everything he can. All things considered, he helped lead this team to the AFC Championship when most didn’t see that coming. The Steelers have, arguably, the best offensive weapons in the league at their respective positions – wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back LeVeon Bell. To repeat the kind of success this offense had this season would mean to retain the services of Bell, find a tight end that doesn’t get hurt and a compliment at wideout to Brown who doesn’t get suspended.
This is Roethlisberger not saying that he’ll leave – but one day, he won’t be under center for this team anymore and who knows how long it’ll take them to replace a player of his caliber.
It would be considerate of Big Ben to not leave this kind of notion in the air for too long though – considering the team is in “post-post-season” mode, which means they are looking at contracts, upcoming free agents and an NFL Draft to mold their franchise for next season.
Remember a few paragraphs ago when I referred to Roethilsberger as “butt-hurt?” Well, I meant it. The Steelers just lost to the Patriots by a score of 36-17. And although the final score is what you’ll read, visually that game looked like 56-10. The proud Steelers organization and it’s high profiled offensive stars were thoroughly embarrassed on national television. Talking to a quarterback about the upcoming season after getting waxed like that, is like asking a girl if she’ll take her boyfriend back, when they just broke up five minutes ago. Neither one is thinking straight and both are going to answer the question over-emotionally, with very little common sense involved in the equation.
So in this instance, Roethlisberger is a 19 year old girl. But he has good reason to be. As hinted at earlier, the window of opportunity for this squad is one or two more years. One if we’re being realistic. It’s a clutch and suave move by Roethlisberger. When things aren’t going the way you like it, make some threats, stomp your feet and hope daddy buys you a new car – or in this case, hope the Steelers give Ben the help he needs to make it to another Super Bowl.