The 2017 season could very well be the final one for Pittsburgh Steerlers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Talk of retirement occurred earlier in January after the Steelers fell to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.
Two days into training camp and Roethlisberger is still mulling the idea. Family and long-term health concerns are weighing in heavily in Big Ben’s decision.
“Age,” Roethlisberger said, then laughed, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. “It’s just, it’s 14 years; that’s a long time. I think the average life expectancy in the NFL is 3 years, maybe 3½ now. I’ve been blessed to do this a long time. I think it’s just seeing my kids growing up, and in the offseason I love getting to spend time with them, and then I come here and football season just has to take up so much of your time.
Just all those things combined — being healthy, being able to play catch with my kids. I feel good mentally, I know this new study that came out that 90 percent [of NFL] players’ brains who were studied had CTE.”
By the sounds of things, Roethlisberger seems closer than ever to calling it quits after this season. Of course we will have to see how things play out. Another Super Bowl run could make or break Roethlisberger’s plans.
Roethlisberger’s health is also something to monitor. The last two seasons, Roethlisberger missed multiple games due to various injuries. None were too serious, but they were enough to expose his signs of age and wear and tear.
Big Ben turned 35 in March and is one of the senior quarterbacks in the league. He is completely justified to consider his future health in making a final decision about his career.
We will see how the season plays out. It is quite apparent, though, that the Steelers need to plan for life without Roethlisberger sooner rather than later.