Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger Publicly Addresses Retirement Rumors

Getty Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger looks from the sideline versus Ravens.

We all know Ben Roethlisberger can’t play forever. It’s just a matter of when he decides to call it quits. It should’ve been years ago, or he still has some gas in the tank, depending on what side of the fence you’re on.

If the news that ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported holds any truth, though, that time is drawing near — Roethlisberger is in the final stretch of a heralded 17-season career.

For the first time since the news broke, Roethlisberger spoke publicly to the rumor that the 2021 NFL season would be his last. When asked about the relevance of Schefter’s report in a December 5 postgame press conference, Roethlisberger said, “We just got done with this game, I’m exhausted, and we play in a couple of hours, it feels like.”

After a tough game that was a battle to the very end, the Steelers now turn around to travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings on Thursday Night Football.

“My focus is on Minnesota and what we have to do to get ready. I’ll address any of that stuff after the season. I’ve always been a one game at a time and a one season at a time person, and I’m going to stay that way.”

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Rarely does a quarterback publicly announce in-season that he’ll be retiring, so how Roethlisberger responded is not a surprise.

Defensive tackle Cam Heyward — Roethlisberger’s longest-tenured teammate — was asked if the two talked about Roethlisberger retiring. “Said a little bit, but that’s between me and him,” Heyward said, per ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. “I’m just happy the way he played tonight. To pick up a critical W for us, our QB came through .. and I’ll leave it at that.”


Third Time’s a Charm?

While this may be the last time Roethlisberger flirts with retirement, it’s certainly not the first. The future Hall of Famer thought about leaving football behind dating as far back as 2008. According to CBS Sports, a rare tussle with the Philadelphia Eagles left Roethlisberger battered and bruised. In his first matchup with the Pennsylvania counterparts, he was sacked an astounding eight times (per Pro Football Reference).

“I’m not a big ‘remembering games’ type guy, especially losses, but that’s one that I do remember vividly,” Roethlisberger told 93.7 The Fan in 2016. “I remember getting sacked eight or nine times. I remember driving home from the airport after that game and thinking to myself like, ‘Do I want to keep doing this? Do I really want to keep playing football?'”

It was a heart-to-heart conversation with defensive end Brett Keisel that convinced Roethlisberger he needed to keep on keepin’ on.

“No joke, I called Brett Keisel, and we were talking, and he was like, ‘Why don’t you just stop over?'” Roethlisberger said. “It was kind of on my way home. I stopped over at his house and sat down in his basement for a couple of hours, and we just talked and had a couple of beers, and I was literally like, ‘This is not fun, this is not really worth it.’ We talked and got over it.”

After the Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 season ended in heart-breaking fashion — one game shy of a trip to the Super Bowl — Roethlisberger contemplated retirement once again.

“I’m gonna 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 gonna be a next season,” Roethlisberger told Ron Cook and Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 The Fan in January 2017 (per Sean Gentille of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

It’s more than likely that Roethlisberger is serious this time around. And he should be; it’s beyond time. He’s been an exceptional leader, but there comes a time for even the greatest leaders to step down and let someone else try to lead.

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