While the Pittsburgh Steelers took on the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night Football, fans almost didn’t recognize quarterback Ben Roethlisberger standing on the sideline at Heinz Field. Not only did Big Ben grow a large gnarly beard, with his Steelers’ snow hat, his new look drew a lot of funny comparisons online during the game on December 15.
The 37-year-old veteran QB has not played since Week 2, and while Roethlisberger at first thought he’d be able to come back before the end of the 2019 season, he’s since been ruled out until 2020. After sustaining an elbow injury that required surgery, despite not being able to suit up, he’s been watching his team play from the sidelines, and helping out with the Steelers offense.
However, Twitter had a field day with his rugged new look on Sunday night, as Devlin Hodges took over as quarterback to take on Josh Allen and the Bills (9-4). As the Steelers remain in the play-off hunt going into this AFC matchup, for users online watching the game, Roethlisberger appeared as if he just got back from an actual hunt.
NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano tweeted, “Ben Roethlisberger looks as if he’s been living in the woods since his Week 2 injury.”
Other people believed he looked a lot like Yukon Cornelius, iconic Christmas character from the 1964 television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Cornelius is the arctic prospector who meets Rudolph and Hermey while trying to avoid the Abominable Snowmonster.
Some users online thought he looked homeless, and many commented on what appeared to be his recent weight gain. There were also a ton of comparison’s to Will Ferrel’s role as Ron Burgundy in the movie Anchorman, when the character has a mid-life crises and mental breakdown in the comedic film.
Will Big Ben Return To The NFL In 2020?
While Roethlisberger’s new look has fans worried he’s already settled into retirement, the QB has no plans to stop playing next year. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has indicated that Big Ben is likely to see his current contract through, which would mean another two seasons with the franchise, per ESPN.
“He fully intends to come back from his injury, and everything we’ve heard, we’re comfortable that’s a strong possibility,” Tomlin said.
Roethlisberger’s specific injury still remains a bit of a mystery since the Steelers have only noted that it involves his elbow. He first stopped playing early in the Seahawks-Steelers game after a non-contact play. The NFL deemed that Roethlisberger was dealing with an elbow injury prior to the game, but the Steelers did not list him on the injury report.
The Steelers was fined $75,000 attempting to conceal Roethlisberger’s injury. Pro Football Talk detailed how the Steelers handled the situation leading up to the Seahawks matchup: “The Steelers listed Roethlisberger as not practicing on Wednesday of that week for reasons not related to injury. He fully participated on Thursday and Friday, and no injury was ever mentioned. Roethlisberger suffered a non-contact elbow injury during the game, resulting in season-ending surgery.”