In the immediate aftermath of Sunday night’s 48-37 Wildcard playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns, longtime Pittsburgh Steelers stars Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey were seen sitting together on the team bench—and visibly emotional. Pouncey has long indicated that he plans to retire when Big Ben does, leading observers to wonder whether both have an inkling that this was their last game.
Couldn’t see this from the vantage point in the press box behind them, but Roethlisberger, Pouncey and JuJu were emotional on the bench. pic.twitter.com/JgbqVvQuN6
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) January 11, 2021
At his postgame press conference, Roethlisberger said it was too soon to think about any decisions about the future. He indicated that he will pray about it and talk with his family, but also noted that he has a year remaining on his contract.
“I hope the Steelers want me back if that’s the way we go. There will be discussions but this isn’t the time for that,” he said.
Ben Roethlisberer on Maurkice Pouncey
As for sitting with Pouncey on the bench, he said, “I love that guy. He is one of the best competitors and teammates I’ve ever had. It’s been so much fun to share a football field with him. I hate that it ended the way it did. I wanted to win it for him.”
For what it’s worth, Roethlisberger went on to clarify that he hated the way this season ended. Both Big Ben and Pouncey have one season remaining on their contracts, with Roethlisberger’s salary cap hit scheduled to be more than $41 million and Pouncey’s 2021 cap hit north of $14 million.
Ben Roethlisberer on JuJu Smith-Schuster
Knowing that even if he returns next season, fourth-year wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster may not, as Smith-Schuster is a pending unrestricted free agent.
“I told him how proud I was of him and how much I enjoyed being his teammate and being his quarterback,” said Roethlisberger. “I’ll always support him and be proud of him. I think he embodies what it is to be a Pittsburgh Steeler.”
Roethlisberger also said he hopes he’s speaking for the fans when he said, “We don’t want him going anywhere.”
After the game Smith-Schuster indicated he doesn’t want to go elsewhere either.
“I wouldn’t mind … I’d love to stay in Pittsburgh. I’ve built a strong foundation. I love Coach Tomlin, Coach Ike. They made me who I am today. I don’t want to go to a different organization and change who I am. I would love to be a Steeler again,” he said.
As for whether or not he regrets his “Still the Same Browns” quote, Smith-Schuster said, “I don’t regret saying what I said. They came out … today wasn’t our night. Hopefully the same Browns show up against the next opponent and do what they did tonight and have a great game.”
You can watch Ben Roethlisberger’s postgame press conference in its entirety below:
Mike Tomlin’s postgame press conference:
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