As the 2021 season comes to a close, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is giving his first public indication as to where his future lies.
While speaking to the media on Thursday, December 30, the 18-year veteran revealed that “all signs” are pointing towards Week 17 versus the Cleveland Browns being his last home game at Heinz Field.
“I don’t ever speak in definites or guarantees,” Roethlisberger told reporters. “That’s just not what I’ve ever done or who I am. But looking at the bigger picture, I would say that all signs are pointing towards this could be it…regular season that is. I know we still have a chance to potentially get a playoff game there if things fall our way. In the grand scheme of things, in terms of regular seasons, signs are pointing that way this could be it.”
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Roethlisberger Likely Leaning Towards Retirement
The 39-year-old all but shuts the door on a return to the Steelers for the 2022 season. With that being the case, that would indicate Roethlisberger is leaning towards retirement. He had previously hinted in early December that he wouldn’t want to play for another team outside of the Steelers.
“I grew up with that [Joe] Montana, [Dan] Marino, [John] Elway, [Jim] Kelly,” Roethlisberger said. “I think the hardest thing was watching Joe go to the Chiefs from the 49ers. That was tough.”
While retirement rumors and this potentially being his last season with Pittsburgh have been speculated over the past several weeks, this is Roethlisberger’s first admission that he’s looking at his final days as a member of the Steelers.
The veteran quarterback had previously indicated he would reveal his future plans after the season following a Week 13 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in early December.
“My focus is on Minnesota and what we have to do to get ready,” Roethlisberger said on December 5. “I’ll address any of the stuff after the season. I’ve always been a one-game-at-a-time, one-season-at-a-time person.”
However, with the Steelers at 7-7-1 and very likely to miss the postseason, the Steelers quarterback isn’t biding time any longer.
Tomlin Addresses Roethlisberger’s Future
Head coach Mike Tomlin most recently addressed his quarterbacks’ future on December 29, a day prior to Roethlisberger’s comments.
While Tomlin didn’t reveal much, one particular part of his comments were interesting — the part where he says the Steelers “don’t have enough time” in reference to this potentially being Roethlisberger’s last home game at Heinz Field.
“To be honest with you, we don’t have enough time,” said Tomlin. “I mean, I’ve experienced 15 years of Hall of Fame-caliber play as it pertains to Ben. My focus and his focus this week is this game, preparing for this game and performing well in this game. I’m sure there’ll be an appropriate time in the future where I’ll get an opportunity to sing his praises and I will gladly do so. It just doesn’t feel like the appropriate time as we zero in on this opportunity that is Monday Night Football this week.”
Although the Steelers are still fighting for a playoff spot — they’re a half-game behind the Miami Dolphins for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC playoff race — the reality that this is likely Big Ben’s final home playoff game is quickly becoming a reality.