In December, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told NBC Sunday Night Football sideline reporter Michele Tafoya that he wouldn’t shave off his beard until he is able to throw a football again.
Well, Big Ben has received his long-awaited shave—or at least a trim of his beard—not to mention a haircut.
JuJu Smith-Schuster: ‘He’s Back!’
A tweet posted to Big Ben’s Twitter account this morning shows a clean-shaven Roethlisberger on an airplane, recounting how he wasn’t going to shave or get a haircut until he could throw again.
“Like, throw it to one of my teammates, like a legit NFL pass,” he adds.
The video then cuts to Roethlisberger on a high school practice field, throwing passes to teammates JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Connor and Ryan Switzer. The tweet is accompanied by a message from Roethlisberger, which says: “Feels good to be back out there with my guys!”
At the end of the clip, Smith-Schuster announces “He’s back!” It’s an extra bit of confirmation that Big Ben’s surgically-repaired elbow is NFL-ready, or at least getting closer to NFL-ready.
Also included in the video is a still photo of Roethlisberger getting the aforementioned shave and haircut, a big smile on his face, no doubt ready to be done with all that facial hair, for more reasons than one.
The players appear to be working out at Chuck Knox Stadium—aka Quaker Valley High School Stadium—in Leetsdale, approximately a half-hour northwest of downtown Pittsburgh.
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Big Ben a ‘Mountain Man’ No More
Roethlisberger’s recent attention to personal grooming ought to put an end to the jokes and memes making reference to Big Ben looking like a mountain man—or worse, a homeless person.
During the Steelers’ prime time game against the Buffalo Bills this past December one Twitter user asked why “Ben Roethlisberger looks like a weathered old fisherman who’s seen some STUFF?”
Another dubbed him “Ben ‘Yukon Cornelius’ Roethlisberger.”
And yet another simply tweeted, “Geez, 3.5 months on IR and Ben Roethlisberger turned into [Detroit Lions head coach] Matt Patricia.”
Season Opener Still Four Months Away
The best news for the Steelers and their fans is that there’s still almost four months before the scheduled start of the regular season, plenty of time for Big Ben to continue strengthening and rehabilitating his arm.
Roethlisberger also figures to need time to establish chemistry with the team’s newly-acquired receivers, which include rookie second-rounder Chase Claypool, as well as tight end Eric Ebron, who recently tweeted that he has passed his physical and is “running and cutting with no pain finally. I promise u this gone [sic] be something to watch,” tweeted Ebron.
The Steelers are scheduled to open the NFL preseason against the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game, to be held on August 6 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.