Just about the time the talk had died down about Ben Roethlisberger considering retirement, and just about the time the whispers about the Pittsburgh Steelers possibly drafting his replacement this year started heated up, Big Ben sent out a dispatch on Twitter on Friday:
Informed the team I am looking forward to my 14th season. Steeler Nation will get my absolute best! — Ben.— BigBen7.com (@_BigBen7) April 7, 2017
(Actually, the oddest postscript of the story is that Roethlisberger apparently has blocked scores of NFL media members on Twitter, leading to some immediate confusion about whether the report was real or not. It appears to be completely legit.)
Not exactly the worst Friday news dump of all time. I mean, we expected this, right?
When Roethlisberger spoke in somewhat nebulous language at the end of the season about his future, hinting that he could consider retiring, we took it about as seriously as that relative who drops a “who knows, this could be my last Christmas” at the family party, just wanting a little extra attention.
Still, 14 seasons is a long time, and Roethlisberger has been beaten to shreds over his career. There’s little doubt he’s one of the tougher quarterbacks we’ve known over the past few generations, and frankly, we’re glad he’s back. Losing him and Tony Romo in the same offseason might cut down on the hot-take percentage in 2017 just a tad but it also would rob us of two of the best playmakers the league has known for more than a decade.
Certainly, we expected him back. Head coach Mike Tomlin did say the Steelers needed to think about the day when Ben wouldn’t be there, but Steelers president Art Rooney II said last week at the owners meeting he expected No. 7 to be good to go in the fall.
Last we saw him, Roethlisberger was not at his best against the New England Patriots, hampered by an ankle injury the week prior in the playoff win over the Kansas City Chiefs. But if there’s ever a quarterback we can’t rule out from bouncing back, it’s Roethlisberger who certainly looked capable of leading a title run before he got hurt — again.
With Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell in their respective primes, the Steelers still have ammo. And Big Ben can look no further than the winners of the past three Super Bowls for inspiration: Tom Brady won it at ages 37 and 39 and Peyton Manning at 39. Heck, Roethlisberger just turned 35 a few weeks ago, so by that measure he’s in great shape.